The Parent-Child Attachment Relationship: Fostering Healthy Child Development
Many children are vulnerable to developing cognitive, socio-emotional and neurophysiological problems that could hinder their adaptation until adulthood. Examples include children who are mistreated (or vulnerable to mistreatment) and those at risk of developing neurobiological disorders. According to Dr. Chantal Cyr, who holds the Canada Research Chair on Child Attachment and Development, early intervention aimed at helping young children develop a secure feeling of attachment to their parents is key to optimizing parental care and to the healthy development of vulnerable children.
The goal, then, of Cyr’s work is to help families in difficulty. To do so, she and her team at the Laboratoire d’études sur le développement de l’enfant et sa famille aim to develop and assess the effectiveness of the Intervention-Relationnelle, a parent-child intervention centred on the attachment relationship and positive video feedback in response to parent-child exchanges. They are also seeking to better understand the role of parent-child relations in the context of other individual and family factors, so as to help identify and fine-tune the intervention targets to be acted upon.
Cyr’s approach is to examine families’ transformation over time, basing her work essentially on observational assessments of families. These give her unparalleled insight into the behaviours of young children, whose verbal communication capacities are more limited. Carried out in close cooperation with clinicians from both here and abroad, Cyr’s research will have direct repercussions on the well-being of children and their families, and will lead to improved professional practices in dealing with these clients.