preschool assessment of attachment

Overview Course: Pre-School Assessment (PAA)
Assessing patterns of attachment in 18-month to five-year-old children

Family Relations Institute

The Preschool Assessment of Attachment (PAA) is an instrument for assessing patterns of attachment in 18-month to five-year-old children*. The procedure involves a dynamic-maturational expansion of the Ainsworth classificatory method (Crittenden, 1992). Like the Ainsworth Strange Situation for infants, the PAA involves a 20-minute laboratory procedure and takes three people to carry out (plus the child and mother). Classification is based on careful review of the videotape and takes approximately one-half hour per videotape.

preschool attachment

Attachment in pre-school
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Dynamic-Maturational Classifications in the Preschool Years

The classificatory system includes all of the categories of the infant procedure (i.e., A1-2, B1-4, C1-2, A/C), plus several patterns that develop during or after the preoperational shift at the end of the second year of life. Specifically, Ainsworth's three basic strategies for negotiating interpersonal relationships are modified to fit preschoolers' more sophisticated mental skills and organizations of behavior. Thus, the patterns are renamed as secure/balanced (Type B), defended (Type A) and coercive (Type C).

With the addition of several new subpatterns, the PAA sets the stage for the even more complex patterns of behavior that are observed at later ages, especially in the school years. Furthermore, a particular advantage of the expanded classificatory system used in the PAA as compared to other classificatory systems is that it differentiates "unendangered" A1-2 and C1-2 children from those using the compulsive (A+) and obsessive (C+) subpatterns. These patterns, i.e, the compulsive caregiving A3, compulsive compliant A4, aggressive C3 and feigned helpless C4 subpatterns, identify the children most likely to come from troubled homes and most likely to experience psychological, social, developmental, and learning problems. These coercive and defended subpatterns as well as the compulsive/obsessive A/C pattern have implications for emotional and behavioral problems that develop during the preschool and school years.

Training courses

The two-week course is taught from videotapes and depends upon both maternal and child behavior. Non-verbal behavior, interpersonal strategies, and developmental processes are emphasized. The course includes a preliminary reliability test based on a standardized set of American mother-child dyads. During the course, participants generate a set of videotapes that reflect their intended applications and culture(s). These tapes are used to assess the participant's competence in administering the procedure.

As with all courses offered by Dr. Crittenden, participants are given a written and signed statement of their percent agreement with the standard. This reliability can be reported in research articles. Evidence of reliability should be requested if the participant will code data for another researcher.

To inquire about the course in general, interested parties can contact Dr. Crittenden directly. To register for courses, individuals should check the training section listed on this web page and contact the relevant organizer. Dr. Crittenden does not handle registration or fee payment. Requests to run a new course can be directed to Dr. Crittenden.

* The period from 15-21 months must be interpolated between the Ainsworth infancy and the preschool systems.

Studies using the Preschool Assessment of Attachment (PAA)

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