For each child, identify whether you think the observations suggest secure or insecure attachment, and if insecure, indicate what kind. Briefly explain each answer.

Lifespan group assignment


Alex, Zach and Katina are siblings that were placed in foster care 4 months ago following the death of their mother by accidental overdose. She had a long history of substance use and had been known to the child welfare authorities since Zack was born. There are no known relatives to care for the children, which is why they have ended up remaining in foster care. Alex is the oldest at 11 years, Zach is 7, and Katina is 10 months old. Their social worker tried but was unsuccessful in finding a placement that would accept all 3 children. One foster home agreed to take the two oldest children and another was found that could take Katina.


Alex is still clearly very sad about his mother’s death, but he seems to be managing. He has adjusted fairly well to his new school, and has made some new friends. Alex has also developed a good relationship with his new teacher, Ms. Sandhu, despite only knowing her for a few months. He works hard in class and on his homework, and seems eager to please Ms. Sandhu and his foster mother.

Zach is very sad, often hard to console, and frequently withdrawn, even from Alex. Recently, Zach got lost while the family was shopping at the mall. The security officer who found him later reported that Zach didn’t initially seem very upset about being lost, but that he started to cry when he spotted the foster parents waiting at the security office. And, when the security officer handed Zach over to his foster parents Zach pushed them away and ran under the desk where sat and cried for almost 5 minutes before rejoining the foster parents and leaving the office.

Katina seems to be a generally happy baby. She seems well-connected to her foster parents. When the social worker dropped by recently Katina cried when the worker tried to pick her. She quickly crawled over to her foster mother who reassured her that everything was OK. Katina quickly settled and asked to be put down on the floor so she could explore. She slowly warmed up to the worker and by the end of the visit allowed herself to be picked up, but only as long as her mother was in the room.

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Use your textbook, notes and any other reliable and appropriate resources (please indicate all sources) you have available to you, answer the following questions, with attention to each of the children separately:

1.Drawing on what you know about attachment theory and child development, what might you speculate or guess about each child’s experiences in their early years? What sorts of experiences in early childhood might explain the behaviour of the children today?

2.For each child, identify whether you think the observations suggest secure or insecure attachment, and if insecure, indicate what kind. Briefly explain each answer.

3.Based on your answers to question 2, what would Erikson say about the experiences (the past) and needs (the present and future) of the children? What would he have to say about what has happened to the children, and about what they need now and in the future for healthy development? Think in terms of Erikson’s tasks and “crises”.

4.Assume that your speculation about the children’s early experiences has been confirmed by the child welfare authorities and that your assessment of their attachment is correct. What would you – a worker whose thinking is influenced by Indigenous and holistic perspectives – recommend for each of the children? In your opinion, what might help them best to deal with the losses in their life and to continue to develop in a healthy way?

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