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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 54
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • AUTUMN 2014 - ISSUE 54 19 • Psychopathology While psychopathology can result from predisposition genetics, attachment can also play a role. Cognition contributes to depression and anxiety insofar as the principle issue is the ability to make and maintain affectionate relationships. When psychopathology results from poor emotion regulation, secure relationships can provide a protective factor. • School readiness Professor Cassidy stressed that school readiness is so much more than literacy and numeracy skills. Emotional competency, relationship skills and self-regulation are all imperative for a successful transition to school. Secure attachments can contribute to each by enhancing: 1. representation of others as trustworthy; 2. positive representations of self; 3. positive peer relationships; 4. social competence; 5. emotional regulation; 6. exploratory competence through problem solving, being calmer and more focussed; 7. executive functioning. According to Professor Cassidy, it is never too late to change a pattern of attachment. Reflective functioning, which involves being mindful of one's own state and having empathy with the mental and emotional state of others, is a primary skill for practitioners to develop in promoting secure attachment. The foundations of a child's social development will rest on the child's self-regulation, sense of agency and psychological security. Doctor Deborah Weatherston's address was titled, Developing Professional Capacity to Foster Infant and Early Childhood Social and Emotional Wellbeing. Dr Weatherston also placed emphasis on reflective practice and on using relationships to promote social and emotional wellbeing. She considers social and emotional development to be the cornerstones of healthy development, providing the foundation upon which all future development rests, including physical growth, health, cognitive skills and communication. She concedes that we have to work hard to make people understand just how important it is to our health and development. The early years represent an unparalleled opportunity for true prevention policies that promote positive healthy development that will resonate throughout a child's life. Dr Weatherston asserts that we need professionals who understand the importance of early relationship development to social and emotional health and who attend to, support, nurture and enhance early developing relationships in diverse settings. Dr Weatherston suggests that in order to support children's and families' social and emotional wellbeing early childhood professionals require: • Understanding and recognition of the significance and complexities of early brain development, developmental competencies in infancy and attachment theory. • Well developed observations skills in order to understand relationships for, with, and between children. • Trusting relationships with families in order to develop both formal and informal skills in offering developmental guidance. • Time for reflection that supports professionals to: - examine their own thoughts and feelings, strengths and growth areas; - consult regularly with supervisors to understand their own experiences and vulnerabilities; - share the feelings experienced in the presence of children and families; - allow feelings to inform the relationship work; - remain open, curious and emotionally available to families, to supervisors and to themselves. Dr Weatherston's closing remarks reiterated that relationships should be the overarching theme in all work with children and families, and that reflection is essential because it encourages practitioners to be curious and to stay the course, not to give up when things get too hard. The conference succeeded in combining both a sobering realisation of the scope of mental health issues in our community and a sense of possibility for change, particularly when practitioners within and between professional fields share strengths to work together towards common goals. Prevention and intervention in the early childhood years have the potential to impact significantly on the mental health of children now, and into the future. Author: Desley Jones Director Ballymore Kindergarten, Brisbane
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014