Key Concepts

Attachment Video Feedback Intervention

Attachment video feedback Intervention is a positive intervention based on attachment and centered on the strengths of the parent. It generally uses video feedback and focuses on changing the parent-child relationship. This type of intervention aims to reinforce the parent’s sensitive behaviour towards his child in order to promote a secure attachment. To do this, the parent’s relationship intervention helps the parent observe the child’s behaviours and recognize the child’s distress signals, properly recognize and interpret the child’s behaviours, and become aware of the child’s attachment and exploration needs. The relational intervention has a structured intervention protocol, short-term (8 to 12 90-minute sessions at home) and adapted to the relational dynamics of each dyad. Positive feedback is the main tool of relational intervention. Indeed, the parents targeted by this type of intervention have often been undervalued in their role. Positive feedback counteracts resistance to intervention and provides a powerful catalyst for change.This type of intervention is generally very effective in promoting sensitive behaviours and the development of a secure attachment when applied to a population of children aged 0 to 5 years in a high risk or maltreatment situation. (Blondin, 2018).

Parental Sensibility

Parental sensitivity refers to parents’ ability to respond to their child’s signals and comfort needs in a predictable, warm and contingent manner. If the parent shows an adequate sensitivity, the child learns that he can count on his parent when he needs it and tends to develop a secure attachment (Ainsworth et al., 1978).

Atypical Parent Behaviours

Atypical behaviours presented by parents are not abuse behaviours per se, but they are believed to be potential behavioural precursors to abuse. These take the form of dissociation, withdrawal, aggression or impotence behaviours presented by the parent during an interaction with his or her child. Thus, the parent responds non-optimally to his child when he plays with the child, or when the child is in distress. (Madigan et al., 2006)

Abuse

Abuse represents any form of physical and/or psychological abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment of another person that poses a potential threat to the dignity and survival of another person. For abused children, it has negative consequences, particularly in terms of their development and health. Abuse includes four main types: psychological, sexual, physical and neglect.

Physical abuse is defined as any act that impairs a person’s physical integrity or life. This type of abuse can occur periodically or only once. Hitting, pinching, shooting, choking, burning, shaking and slapping are examples of physically abusive behaviour. Physical violence is the most common type of violence that is seen, as it usually leaves traces on the body). (Source: Blue Child Association)

Psychological abuse is the set of words or gestures for the purpose of injuring and/or lowering the other. This type of abuse can manifest itself in various forms such as the use of insults, threats, humiliation and deprivation of contact. (Lindsay and Clement, 1998).

Sexual abuse is defined as any interaction or behaviour of a sexual nature that involves one or more persons who are not consenting to it. It may also take place with or without physical contact (Collart, 2017).

Neglect is a form of abuse that is characterized by a person who does not adequately meet the various needs of another person who needs to be adequately met by the person. For example, parental neglect is defined as a lack of response on the part of the parent to the child’s various cognitive, physical, emotional or supervisory needs. In Canada, parental neglect is one of the most reported forms of maltreatment in child protection services (Clement et al., 2017).

Behavioural problems

Behavioural problems refer to the presence of internalized or externalized symptoms. They cause dysfunction or distress, which differentiates them from certain normal transient behaviours (Charach, 2017). Abuse is often associated with more externalized and internalized problems in children.

Problems with externalized behaviours usually manifest themselves as agitation, impulsiveness, lack of obedience or respect for their limits, or aggression. Externalized behaviours that are always present at school age can lead to a number of academic difficulties caused by a lack of concentration or inappropriate behaviour in the classroom. Behavioural problems may be associated with certain behavioural disorders when it is reached at a certain clinical threshold. (Roskam et al., 2007)

Internalized behavioural problems manifest themselves as symptoms of excessive fear, anxiety, depression, addiction, sadness or social withdrawal. The presence of these symptoms may give way to an internalized behavioural disorder when a clinical threshold is reached (Fortin et al., 2000). Children who have been abused or abused are at greater risk of internalized behaviour problems. However, it appears that the presence of such problems is more associated with family and parental variables than with the characteristics of aggression (Zephyr et al., 2014).

Child Attachment

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1969) is the originator of the theory of attachment. According to him, attachment is the set of behaviours aimed at researching and/or maintaining the proximity of a specific person. In children, behaviours such as smiling, crying, sucking or grabbing can be described as attachment behaviours. The quality of attachment in children can be assessed in particular through the Foreign Situation, established by Mary Ainsworth in 1978.This procedure involves situations of separation between the child and his caregiver as well as contact with a foreign person. The quality of attachment can be categorized according to the child’s behaviour during these situations. Four types of attachment can be observed: secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-ambivalent and insecure-disorganized.

The majority of children generally have a secure attachment. Such attachment involves, in most cases, an available and sensitive attachment figure, thus representing a safety base from which the child can explore his environment. The child may react strongly at the time of separation and will show contentment at the time of the meeting. His interactions with his attachment figure are usually relaxed and pleasant in nature.

It appears that a small proportion of children have an insecure-avoiding attachment (14%). The attachment figure of the child with this type of attachment may tend to be insensitive or even rejecting. Sometimes it promotes early self-reliance and focuses on one’s own needs, rather than the needs of the child. Faced with a rejecting attachment figure, the child ceases to report his own distress. At the time of the evaluation, he seems rather indifferent to his attachment. This indifference can be expressed through behaviours such as ignoring the attachment figure at the time of the meeting, focusing on the game. Despite this appearance of indifference, a heart rate and a higher level of cortisol are observed in the child, which is a sign of the stress experienced by the child.

The main characteristic of the attachment figure of children with insecure-ambivalent attachment is that they respond inconsistently, unstablely, inconsistently or contradictoryly to the child’s distress signals. Because of these behaviours, the child does not know what to expect. As a result, they will tend to intensify their distress signals to get attention. There may be very intense protests at the time of separation from the parent and excessive passivity or excessive proximity-seeking behaviour at the time of the meeting. The child will be able to seek closeness to his attachment figure, while adopting contradictory anger behaviours. The child will therefore not be inclined to explore.

The main characteristic of the attachment figure of children with insecure-ambivalent attachment is that they respond inconsistently, unstablely, inconsistently or contradictoryly to the child’s distress signals. Because of these behaviours, the child does not know what to expect. As a result, they will tend to intensify their distress signals to get attention. There may be very intense protests at the time of separation from the parent and excessive passivity or excessive proximity-seeking behaviour at the time of the meeting. The child will be able to seek closeness to his attachment figure, while adopting contradictory anger behaviours. The child will therefore not be inclined to explore.

View references

Ainsworth, Mr.D.S., Blehar.C. Waters, E. Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. 

Blondin, A. (2018). The effectiveness of relational intervention with international adoptive parents and their children: an examination of parental sensitivity and investment. Thesis. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. University of Quebec in Montreal.

Charach, A., Belanger, S. Has. McLennan, J. D. Nixon, Mr. K. (2017). Screening for disruptive behaviours on the front line in preschoolers. Paediatrics – Child Health, 22(8), 485-49

Clement, M.-E., Berube, A., Chamberland, C. (2017). Validation of the French version of the multidimensional scale of parental neglect. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(8), 560-569. https://doi.org/10.1177/07067437177036453.

Collart, P. (2017). Sexual abuse: discussion of definition, elements of diagnosis and prevention. Social Service, 63(1), 29-42.

Duriez, N. (2011). Family therapy and emotional regulation disorders. Family therapy, 32(1), 41-58.

Fortin, L., Marcotte, D., Royer, E., Potvin, P. (2000). Personal, family and academic discriminating factors between internalized, externalized and concurrent behavioural disorders in high school students. Education Science Review, 26(1), 197-218.

Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39(3), 281-291.

Lindsay, J. Clement, M. (1998). Psychological violence: its definition and representation by gender. Feminist Research, 11 (2), 139-160. https://doi.org/10.7202/058008ar

Roskam, I., Kinoo, P., Nassogne, Mr.C. (2007). The child with outsourced behavioral disorders: epigenetic and developmental approach. Neuropsychiatry of Childhood and Adolescence, 55(4), 204-213.