Lorenza Di Pentima, Alessandro Toni, Antonio Roazzi, Grazia Attili

Attachment, parental reactions and coping strategies in difficult situations. A study on maltreated children

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Maltreatment; Attachment; Expectations; Parental Reactions; Coping Strategies.

This study aims to explore associations between attachment internal working models (IWMs) and expectations concerning parental reactions and coping strategies to face difficult situations in maltreated children. In order to assess attachment IWMs Bowlby's Separation Anxiety Test (Attili, 2001) was administered to 60 abused children (38 males, mean age = 10,9) and 100 controls (44 males, mean age = 8,7). Drawings by Franchini and Maiolo (2005), depicting difficult situations, have been also shown to all subjects and they were asked to hypothesize parents' and character's reactions. Results show no difference between secure and insecure maltreated children; nevertheless in maltreated insecure children more anticipations of negative, control and disconfirmation behaviors by both parents appear than in controls. Coping strategies in maltreated insecure children foreshadow mostly having to face alone the situations because parents are not available, or to waive all claims for help, or to use aggressive actions.

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