Pediatric Annals

Feature Article 

Changing Caregivers: Coping with Early Adversity

Mary Dozier, PhD; Johanna Bick

  • Pediatric Annals. 2007;36(4)
  • Posted April 1, 2007

Abstract

Human infants are born biologically prepared to form attachments to their caregivers. Bowlby suggested that the attachment system evolved to enhance the chances of survival. By the time infants are capable of moving away from attachment figures, they typically prefer to remain close under conditions of threat. Therefore, they do not wander away and become vulnerable to accidents or predators, but rather maintain close proximity to attachment figures. Given that human infants are “designed” to maintain contact with attachment figures, there is perhaps no greater threat than the disruption in the “parent-child” relationship. When young children experience disruptions in their relationships with their caregivers, such as when entering foster care, the disruptions have consequences for their behavior and their physiology.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mary Dozier, PhD, is Amy E. Dupont Chair of Child Development, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware. Johanna Bick is Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, University of Delaware.

Address correspondence to: Mary Dozier, PhD, 114 Wolf Hall, Newark, DE 19716; fax: 302-831-6423; or e-mail: mdozier@udel.edu

The authors disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Abstract

Human infants are born biologically prepared to form attachments to their caregivers. Bowlby suggested that the attachment system evolved to enhance the chances of survival. By the time infants are capable of moving away from attachment figures, they typically prefer to remain close under conditions of threat. Therefore, they do not wander away and become vulnerable to accidents or predators, but rather maintain close proximity to attachment figures. Given that human infants are “designed” to maintain contact with attachment figures, there is perhaps no greater threat than the disruption in the “parent-child” relationship. When young children experience disruptions in their relationships with their caregivers, such as when entering foster care, the disruptions have consequences for their behavior and their physiology.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mary Dozier, PhD, is Amy E. Dupont Chair of Child Development, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware. Johanna Bick is Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, University of Delaware.

Address correspondence to: Mary Dozier, PhD, 114 Wolf Hall, Newark, DE 19716; fax: 302-831-6423; or e-mail: mdozier@udel.edu

The authors disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Human infants are born biologically prepared to form attachments to their caregivers. Bowlby suggested that the attachment system evolved to enhance the chances of survival. By the time infants are capable of moving away from attachment figures, they typically prefer to remain close under conditions of threat. Therefore, they do not wander away and become vulnerable to accidents or predators, but rather maintain close proximity to attachment figures. Given that human infants are “designed” to maintain contact with attachment figures, there is perhaps no greater threat than the disruption in the “parent-child” relationship. When young children experience disruptions in their relationships with their caregivers, such as when entering foster care, the disruptions have consequences for their behavior and their physiology.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mary Dozier, PhD, is Amy E. Dupont Chair of Child Development, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware. Johanna Bick is Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student, University of Delaware.

Address correspondence to: Mary Dozier, PhD, 114 Wolf Hall, Newark, DE 19716; fax: 302-831-6423; or e-mail: mdozier@udel.edu

The authors disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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