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Life at two – Learning & exploring with mum

28 months – The importance of attachment for the development of empathy and exploring her transport schema.

Contents of section

  • Out with mum - safety, curiosity and learning
  • At home playing alone - transport schema, practicing empathy
  • Elfer - importance of attachment for development of empathy

Reflect

  • What does Ava notice when she’s standing in the water?
  • How does mum make Ava’s interest in the shadows into a fun game?
  • What is Ava’s reaction when her animals fall off the table?
  • What are some of Ava’s interests?
  • How does mum help Ava’s learning?
  • Why is it important for Ava to be able to play on her own?
  • What can you say about Ava’s play?
  • How does Ava’s relationship with mum affect the way she’s able to play?
  • What do you think helps Ava to begin to be able to imagine how her toys might feel?
00:05
Back with mum for the day,
00:07
Ava is learning all the time.
00:10
Molly takes advantage of the sunny weather,
00:12
even though it's cold and windy,
00:14
and off they go, walking and exploring.
00:20
You come over here and see.
00:22
Oh look, they're all coming!
00:24
Can you hear them?
00:25
That's close enough because remember,
00:27
the edge is just there.
00:29
Shall we get some bread out?
00:31
Yeah.
00:31
Give me some, give me some!
00:33
I have, I have!
00:34
Come on, come on!
00:36
Again, Molly has to get the balance right
00:38
between allowing a little risk and making sure she's safe.
00:42
Don't get too close!
00:43
That's it, just there, perfect.
00:45
Well done.
00:47
That's too close!
00:48
That's just right, if you just stay there.
00:52
Don't get any closer.
00:56
I might fall in.
00:57
You might do and it'll be very cold.
00:58
I would stand one step back.
01:00
That's it, good girl.
01:02
I might fall in.
01:03
Molly knows how Ava's likely to respond
01:05
so doesn't need to be too restrictive.
01:07
Wow, that was pretty good.
01:09
Investigate, oh, look at that!
01:12
Around your feet, the swirling mud.
01:17
I do it again.
01:18
Yeah.
01:20
Oh, look what I'm doing.
01:22
I know, it looks like you're making rings.
01:25
Stamp again, look at the rings.
01:28
Ava's curious and interested
01:30
in what's happening to the water,
01:32
and Molly encourages her signs of interest.
01:34
Wow.
01:36
Molly helps Ava's learning
01:37
by being actively involved, and sharing the enjoyment.
01:40
Look at the ducks over there!
01:42
Shall we go and see them?
01:43
Yeah.
01:45
Come on then.
01:46
I'm gonna do them in the water.
01:48
All right then.
01:48
You can walk along now.
01:55
Do you want to jump down?
01:58
No.
02:03
I can see your shadow.
02:10
Ava makes her shadow smaller by moving back.
02:11
Can see your ... I can see your shadow!
02:16
There's mine.
02:17
There's mine.
02:18
Whose is bigger?
02:19
Yours.
02:21
Yeah.
02:23
And whose is mine, Ava?
02:28
Mine look like a star?
02:29
I'm gonna do one.
02:32
You just put your arms out.
02:35
That's it, now are you are a star too?
02:39
I'm turning around ... are you a coat?
02:41
Or a airplane.
02:43
Or airplane.
02:48
What else could we be?
02:54
She's learning about size, being creative,
02:59
using symbolism, and experiencing her body movements.
02:60
What do you say for an airplane?
03:05
One of the most striking things that
03:09
John Bowlby taught us with attachment theory
03:10
was the importance of attachments for
03:13
helping children to feel secure
03:16
and confident and free from anxiety.
03:21
Of course, the very basis for children's explorations
03:24
is that they feel confident to explore.
03:26
If a child is anxious,
03:30
then they tend to be preoccupied with their anxiety,
03:34
and want to stay near to familiar adults.
03:38
That dramatically restricts their capacity to explore,
03:41
to experiment, to try out new things.
03:44
A child who's confident, who's secure,
03:47
who feels safe is much more likely to experiment,
03:49
to move away from familiar adults,
03:53
to try new situations, to try new experiences,
03:56
and that's the very basis of play,
03:59
of learning, and the development of thinking.
04:02
Back home, Ava takes up Molly's suggestion
04:06
of playing while she gets the lunch ready.
04:08
Where are we going?
04:09
Mummy, come on the bus.
04:10
What are you doing?
04:12
Are you on a bus?
04:13
Yeah.
04:15
Where are you all going?
04:15
Are you?
04:16
And to Newcastle.
04:19
Oh, very good.
04:19
Yeah.
04:20
Who's in there?
04:24
Ford, and rabbit, and Dora.
04:24
Be quiet.
04:28
Oh, are they asleep?
04:31
Yeah, don't wake them up.
04:36
Okay, I won't.
04:38
Right, I'm gonna go and finish the dishes.
04:40
She's secure enough to play on her own,
04:42
and does so with total involvement.
04:46
She's very interested in transport,
04:51
and moves her animals around a lot.
04:54
She moves them from container to container.
04:57
She often pretends to move herself, as well as her toys,
04:59
on journeys sometimes to Newcastle,
05:02
and sometimes, as we saw with the shadows outside,
05:06
pretending to be a plane or a train.
05:08
This can be described as another schema,
05:14
this time, a transport schema.
05:22
Oh!
05:25
Oh no, what happened to you?
05:28
Oh, what happened to you?
05:34
What happened to you?
05:35
The open-ended nature
05:38
of unstructured play means that she's now able to use it
05:39
to explore how others might feel.
05:41
She's practicing empathy.
05:45
What happened to you?
05:48
What happened to you?
05:53
Oh Ford, what happened to you?
05:55
One of the most important things
05:58
that attachment enables babies
06:01
and very young children to develop is empathy.
06:05
And really, empathy means no more than the ability
06:10
to understand the feelings of another person.
06:12
It's quite different from sympathy,
06:15
it's about being able to put yourself
06:16
in another person's shoes,
06:19
and begin to imagine what they may feel like.
06:22
Now, the basis for that, the roots of that
06:26
are in having your own feelings understood
06:30
and that only happens through an attachment relationship.
06:33
So, attachments are very important,
06:36
not just for feelings of security and self esteem,
06:39
but for the development of empathy
06:42
and the building of friendships
06:45
and social interactions generally.
06:49
Are you watching a rabbit, Ford?
06:54
Watching a rabbit?

Ava’s mum really encourages her explorations and interests and we see what she learns when they go out for a walk to feed the ducks. Ava’s grow- ing independence means her mum has to strike a balance between the need to keep her safe and letting her go. This is something most of us have to balance throughout our lives – wanting to stay with what we know well and is familiar to us whilst also looking for new opportunities, wanting new experiences, although this may involve uncertainty and can make us nervous.

Back home she plays contentedly on her own. Again this is the result of the secure attachment she has with mum. The concentration she shows in her play can probably be attributed to another schema that she seems to have – a transport schema. Mum and Claire have often seen her transporting objects around in different ways and moving herself on imaginative journeys, or pretending to be a plane or a train.

Another thing we see in this amazing sequence is Ava’s growing ability to empathise. She is very used to having her own feelings understood by her attachment figures so she can try and do the same for her toys.