Mind
The attachment relationship and the reflective function within the game contexts

The attachment relationship and the reflective function within the game contexts

Attachment theory has conceptualized reflexive function as the ability to be aware of one’s own and others’ mental states, as well as being able to separate one’s own mental states from those of others (Fonagy & Target, 1998).

 

This can be considered important in all the interactions that characterize the relationship between mother and child, including those that concern the moments of game of the dyad (Borelli et al., 2017). In fact, the mother is involved to a considerable extent in the child’s recreational activities during the childhood period, and the ability to respond adequately to her requests plays a fundamental role in the development of the reflective skills of the latter (Fonagy & Target, 1998), who becomes able to understand their emotional states, express their emotions and have a good emotional regulation (Howard et al, 2017), but also to tolerate failures, accept frustrations, respect the rules and improve their own ability to interact with peers.

Starting from these premises, the present study (Waldman-Levi, Finzi-Dottan, & Cope, 2019) intends to investigate whether the mother’s caregiving skills and reflective function are able to predict the support offered by the mother to the child in moments gameplay, as well as providing an insight into the dyad game experience.

After selecting the families, the study took place in the family environment, where the mothers, following the compilation of a questionnaire, were invited to play with their children in the way they used to do and the interaction, lasting 15 minutes, it was videotaped, so that it could be subsequently analyzed.

Questionnaires were initially administered which include the Caregiving System Function Scale (CSF; Shaver et al., 2010), which measures the caregiver’s dispositions in the activities and attitudes shown, the Rumination-Reflection Questionnaire (RRQ; Trapnell & Campbell, 1999 ), which measures ruminative tendencies and reflective ability and the Parent’s / Caregiver Support of Children’s Playfulness (PCSCP; Waldman-Levi & Bundy, 2016), which evaluates the game of dyad; subsequently, the mother’s verbal and non-verbal language, as well as her reflexive abilities, were examined through video recordings.

The results show that a predisposition to safe maternal caregiving is able to predict the reflexive function, which in turn is able to predict the support offered by the mother on gaming occasions. In fact, mothers who showed that they had a secure attachment were also characterized by a strong attention to the emotional states and cognitive needs of the child, reciprocity and adequacy of verbal and non-verbal exchanges. The presence of praise, positive comments and emotional closeness was detected, able to encourage the formation of competence and self-esteem, even in cases where children had to tolerate frustration, as well as the ability to teach and learn the rules of game, helping the child in the process of scaffolding their skills. On the other hand, mothers with anxious attachment were characterized by strong ruminative tendencies and a focus on their own anxieties rather than on the needs of the child within the context of the game, while mothers with avoidant attachment proved to be emotionally detached from the dyadic relationship and the needs presented by the child in the game context. It has been seen how mothers in these cases have failed to provide support to their children, but have shown either anxiety within the verbal and non-verbal exchanges or strong competition against the child. while mothers with avoidant attachment proved emotionally detached from the dyadic relationship and the needs presented by the child in the context of play. It has been seen how mothers in these cases have failed to provide support to their children, but have shown either anxiety within the verbal and non-verbal exchanges or strong competition against the child. while mothers with avoidant attachment proved emotionally detached from the dyadic relationship and the needs presented by the child in the context of play. It has been seen how mothers in these cases have failed to provide support to their children, but have shown either anxiety within the verbal and non-verbal exchanges or strong competition against the child.

In conclusion, it is possible to confirm the initial hypothesis according to which the presence of reflective functions predicts the quality of the mother-child relationship, influencing the formation of the individual’s reflective abilities, and ultimately the future social and relational skills.