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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume I, Wellbeing in Children and Families by Cary L. Cooper, Susan H. Landry

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7

Can Parents Be Supported to Use a Responsive Interaction Style with Young Children?

Susan H. Landry

University of Texas Health Science Center, U.S.A.

Responsive Parenting from Two Theoretical Frameworks

Responsive parenting has been described as an affective-emotional style of interaction between caregivers and their children that includes acceptance of a child as a unique individual with needs and interests of their own (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). In attachment theory, a caregiver's responses are contingently linked to the child's signals in a prompt and sensitive way. These contingent responses, if used consistently, provide the child with feedback that their needs are important and that they are valued and loved. The child, in turn, develops trust and a secure bond with their caregiver and their environment through a process of internalization (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bornstein & Tamis-LeMonda, 1989). This process has been described as a three-term chain of events in which the young child signals, and the caregiver responds in a prompt and sensitive manner that is contingent to what the child is signaling. The child, in turn, experiences that their needs are met in a predictable and sensitive manner (Bornstein & Tamis-LeMonda, 1989). Through this process, the young child learns to self-regulate, as responsive interactions facilitate the development of mechanisms for coping with stress and novelty. With repeated and successful early responsive interactions ...

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