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A Study on the Development of Attachment Relationship Between Residential Caregivers and Children
The purpose of this study is to understand the development of attachment relationships between caregivers and children who have been rehoused in medium- to long-term child and youth placement agencies. The researcher conducted in-depth interviews with six senior caregivers in a residential home for children and youth in central Taiwan. The findings of this study are as follows: 1.The development process of attachment relationships can be approximately divided into the following stages: initial, friction, adjust–repair–rebuild, stable, and closing stages. Rather than being monolinear, the process is multilinear with alternating progression and regression periods. The amount of time spent at each stage varies according to the individuals involved in the relationship. 2.Sources of friction in the development of attachment relationships include the given factors: (a) the institutional constraints of the placement agencies; (b) individual difficulties of caregivers, such as friction between values and role expectations; (c) the children’s attachment style, including their sense of safety and control, emotional issues, anxious or avoidant attachment, trust issues, internal negative patterns, and self-esteem. The three factors listed above interact with and have an influence on each other. 3.The framework for rebuilding attachment relationships constitutes two parts, including the individual practices of caregivers and institutional support. Bottom-up can be divided into three layers. The first-layer, Caregivers’ self-awareness and adjustment form the base of the pyramid while the agencies assist caregivers in their self-exploration and organization. The second-layer, rebuilding the children’s sense of safety and trust in relationships, addresses the core issue. The principles that caregivers implement include: (a) acceptance, curiosity, and empathy; (b) repetitive assurance and communication; (c) expressing love with verbal and physical behaviors; (d) remaining sensitive to children’s early life experiences and assisting them in dealing with the aftermath of those experiences, when appropriate; (e) maintaining a separation between the individual and the problem; (f) conducting ceremonies to foster a sense of belonging; (g) adopting nonviolent disciplinary measures; and (h) implementing substitutional strategies for easing separation anxiety. As for the agencies, they should foster multiple attachment relationships with the children and provide assistance to caregivers. At the highest level, principles for cognitive adjustment and behavioral management include: (a) building a foundation based on caring; (b) having a clear communication; (c) carrying out reasonable discipline measures; and (d) increasing children’s environmental predictability to avoid secondary trauma. To lighten caregivers’ disciplinary burden, institutions can promote cooperation between multiple people in disciplinary roles. The suggestions based on this study are as follows: caregivers should continue to expand their self-awareness and make adjustments as they remain patient and understanding toward the development process of attachment relationships; children placement agencies should assist in developing caregivers’ knowledge of attachment trauma and rebuilding, providing qualified supervision and peer support. In addition, the agencies should also establish a comprehensive placement team cooperation model and atmosphere in order to lighten the caregivers’ burden and provide them with reasonable vacation leave thereby enhancing the quality of placement services ultimately.
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