[Transmission of binding by mothers and their children in the preschool age].Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr. 1999 Feb; 48(2):113-28.PK
A new method is presented in order to assess attachment representations in preschoolers. Using the symbolic medium of doll play and story completions the internal representations of attachment in children beyond infancy can be assessed. Additionally the thesis of transmission of attachment across generations was tested empirically in a sample of 28 German families from middle class socioeconomic background as part of longitudinal study. Transmission of attachment means that parents transmit their different attachment representations to preschool-aged children. Secure and insecure attachment representation in mothers assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview, are associated systematically with their childrens' attachment representations coded from the doll play. In the present study the Adult Attachment Interview was conducted with mothers during the fifth year post delivery. Their first-born children, 17 boys and 11 girls with a mean age of 6;4 years participated in the story completion session. Using a two-fold distinction (secure and insecure) as well as a converted 4-level scale of attachment security, results revealed a correspondence between maternal and child attachment representations. According to psychometric indicaters the story completion procedure demonstrates satisfying reliability and convergent validity with the Separation Anxiety Test. Finally, reasons for the high match of mothers' and childrens' attachment representations are discussed. Maternal sensitive behavior, maternal reflection of their own childhood triggered by the observation of their own child, and various learning processes may operate as mediating factors in this case.