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ABSTRACT:Eighty-five Portuguese children, aged 12 to 30 months, placed in residential institutions were assessed to investigate the influence of variations in the institutionalization experience of social withdrawal behavior, after taking into account potentially confounding individual characteristics and pre-admission experiences. In light of the limited attention in institutionalization research on social withdrawal, the determinants of the identified predictors of withdrawal symptoms also were examined. Current quality of care experienced in the institution, operationalized in terms of the absence (vs. presence) of a preferred attachment relationship, predicted social withdrawal, such that absence of such a relationship forecasted greater withdrawal. Moreover, existence of a preferred attachment relationship was itself predicted by better child socioemotional functioning, greater caregiver sensitive-responsiveness, and better quality of individualized care provided by the staff
Expert Note: This research, like a growing body of research on infant relational withdrawal, highlights the link between quality of care, caregiver sensitivity, infant relational withdrawal and attachment. The chronic relational withdrawal of a baby may be the first clearly measurable sign with ADBB amounting to the development of an insecure or disorganized attachment style. This research is particularly important and informative for the care of young children in nurseries within the framework of child protection, as it demonstrates that it is the quality of the physical and emotional care provided by the caregiver that will allow the baby to be resilient. This pleads for a good quality training, the provision of enough time of link between caregiver and baby and time of supervision for the professionals who work in nursery if we want to preserve the psyche and the development of baby very confronted with adversity.