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Richard H. Smith April 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Dear Barbara and Lynn,
You are very successful in presenting helping support and direction for families. I have spent my career attempting similar activity without your organized results. Bowlby and Ainsworrth would also be impressed. I especially like your emphasis on relating, a two-way interaction.
This may seem trivial but I have atteempted to identify specifics of relating beyond the usual supportive statements. I especially like you attention to eye-to-eye interaction, a high priority for relating. Studies at LSU for bind infants were almost always delayed in relating but eventually learned to apply listening in a similar manner. Helen Keller’s book is excellent in ddescribimng when both are gone.
Did you know both Bowlby and Ainsworth did not consider eye-to-eye very important. They believed attachment was a condition of the infant that did not involve mother’s behavioir. Bowlby even said that a mother’s attachment to her infant was a pathological reversal. Ainsworth eventually agreed to eye-to eye behavior as important but with the warning that since it envolved mother’s behavior it ddid not purely represent the baby. I have always felt this attitide outrageous aand agree with Winnecott that an infant can only exist as a unioin with mother. Eye-to-eye or its substitute is essential for the infant to learn. When an infant is crying (Brazelton’s state 6) the infant is unable to,learn or remember.
An infant range of attachment requests for involvement increase when the mather detects interaction desire prior to the child crying. The early response actually delays and inhibits crying y a child who has learned to hope for the best.
I have many mothers respond with anger about the responsiveness observation. They have been driven to destraction by prompt responding to the infant’s request. A few mother’s have taken pride in not responding to their infants in order to increase the infants’ sense of independence. Attending the details of mother’s interest sometimes assists them to find their own insightful ability to moderate. Almost any directioin given to others(such as I am doing here) will be resented and misinterpreted.
Ainsworth could not test eye-to-eye contact in her abservation of the A<B or C levels of attachment because she did not distinquish hyperalertness (fear) from attentive learning. Rarely, I have observed mothers having the same problem and overstimulate their infants into hyperalertness that they believe is responsiveness. Heidi Als has written good discussions of this problem, especially with preterm or stamina compromised infants.
The critical thing about attentive learning is its relationship to surprise. The newborn is almost always surprised by maternal activity toward them, but with a sensitive mother who reads baby’s clues, the surprise turns to pleasure. Thus, the interactive smile, sometimes in the first week, but not unsusal until 3 months which mothers find very frustrating. The sense of bonding heightens when this social pleasant surprise is shared and often becomes extended with games like peek-a-boo.
Controlled pleasent surprise becomes the hallmark of attachment, annd the child expands his interest in everything to stimulate this gratification. That is why a child never tires or is bored with mother becouse the child believes in personal effectiveness and ability to make changes when making surprises
A child does not like novelty (unlike current cognitive psychoilogy teaching). The infant and child of all ages is attached to controlled desirable change that surprise is the best example. A surprise is a child’s greatest reward and accounts for the child being rewarded by the sound of mother’s voice even if not being attended by her. The appearance that a child is attracted to novelty is a misinterpretation of the child attraction to a variation of a theme. This means the child recognizes how something is change from a familiar experience.
This attraction is observed in music that always varies the first presentation of a theme. Hum the melody of any song and this will be obvious. The variaton of a theme explains why mother’s always repeat what they say to their baby. Infant developmentalist say this is to modulate the infants emotional level (either to calm or excite). While that is a secondary benefit, the primary value is to enhance the sense of attachment.
Since Bowlby and Ainsworth restricted attachment to proximity with mother, I find your describing relationship much more helpful. The most effective route to relating is through acquiring a personal history and variety of many recognizable changing activites that keep surprise in the limits of the child feeling in control. Since this relating involves engaging more than restrictive presence (defined by Bowlby to be attachment ), I have defined mother-infant relating to be a motivational force that I have called by a unique made-up name of “engageance”.
If you find these ideas interesting or even confusing, I am very interested in further discussion. Any response on an e-mail reply is appreciated. (I typed several pages that may be deleted).
Thank you much for the time to read, Richard H. Smith

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