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Personal Paradigm

Marisol Curtis

Brigham Young University-Idaho

Personal Paradigm

Throughout my time here at Brigham Young University-Idaho, I’ve learned many

theories and have been told very many different things about what is best for children’s

development and how to best guide and discipline them. There have been many that I want to

remember and implement as a mother and in my career while there have been others that I didn’t

really identify with. Each person has their own personal paradigm, how they view and

understand the world and everything in it, and in mine are four theories. These theories include,

the attachment theory, temperament, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and mindset.

Attachment Theory

A lot of your relationship with your children all begins at infancy. Those first few years

with your child are crucial to how you and your child will interact with each other. When one

understands a little bit better about the attachment process between parent and child one can

consciously and purposely do things that will better their relationship with their child starting

from infancy.

Attachment is similar to that of imprinting in animals. It is that bond that a child has with

a caregiver on whom they are dependent on for their emotional and physical well-being. It is

important that children develop an attachment bond before the fear emotion settles in at about 8-

9 months in order to have the healthiest relationship with their parent (Ainsworth, 1978). This

can be achieved by having the parent respond to their child’s cues and being available to their

child, creating a sense of security so that the child learns that they can trust their parent (Berns,


In a study called, A Strange Situation, three patterns of attachment were identified:

securely attached, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-ambivalent (Berns, 2004). Parents of securely

attached children are available, sensitive, and consistent. In a room the child will use their parent

as a secure base while still exploring and looking back to make sure that they are still there and

to receive approval (Ainsworth, 1978). Parents of insecure-avoidant attached children are

rejecting, inconsistent, and insensitive. In a room the child won’t use the parent as a secure base.

When the parent leaves, the child won’t cry and will avoid that parent when they return.

Because of past rejection they will try to protect them-selves (Ainsworth, 1978). Parents of

insecure-ambivalent attached children are warm, nurturing, unavailable, and rejecting, thus the

parent is inconsistent in their behaviors. In a room the child is clingy and doesn’t explore. They

will seek contact but when given it, they will then resist it (Ainsworth, 1978).

In order to have that secure attachment with your child that will last throughout your

relationship with them it is important that you make yourself that person that your child knows

they can trust. Many have expressed their concern about “spoiling” their children by giving

them too much attention. This is absolutely false, especially in the early years of children.

When a baby cries, this is their way of communicating. This is how they signal what they need.

The only way that you can “spoil” a child is by not paying attention to these cues. For example,

if you are smothering them with love when it is not asked for. Therefore, it is really important to

be aware of babies’ signals and try to understand what they are trying to communicate, which

will be more beneficial down the road.


In the text book, Child, Family, School, Community: Socialization and Support,

temperament is defined as, “the combination of innate characteristics that determine an

individual’s sensitivity to various experiences and responsiveness to patterns of social

interaction” (Berns, 2004, p. 141). Every child when they come to this world are unique, with

their own personalities. No two children are exactly the same. Once you recognize that and

truly believe it you will be able to better guide their development and know how to better

discipline them.

In a longitudinal study, researchers Chess and Thomas identified 9 types of behavior

characteristics within temperament. Those nine were then bunched up into three different

groups: easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm-up (Berns, 2004). Easy children adapt easily and

display positive moods. Difficult children are slow to adapt and show negative moods. Slow-to-

warm children at first withdraw but then slowly adapt to their new surroundings (Berns, 2004).

Once you understand these three different types of temperament you can then adjust how you

approach children and accommodate to their temperaments so that they receive the best guidance

that is individually appropriate for them.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it lists five human motives. These motives are, starting

with the most basic: phycological needs, safety needs, belongingness or love needs, esteem

needs, and need for self-actualization (Aanstoos, 2013). Phycological needs consist of those

physical needs that are required in order to survive such as water, food, and shelter. Once those

needs are met and satisfied then they are able to move on to the next level which is safety needs.

Safety needs can exist when there are financial problems, war, natural disasters, or even abuse.

When an individual feels safe and secure in their environment, they then move to the next

motive, belongingness or love needs. This can come through friendships, family, significant

others, or any type of social group such as colleagues or classmates. After feeling a sense of

belonging most people then stay in the esteem needs motive.

It is by understanding these motives that you will better be able to understand the actions

of children. It will be hard for a child to feel safe if they are not even receiving their basic needs

at home. Likewise, you may know a child that is having trouble with their self-esteem. If you

want to help that child you can then look to see if they are receiving everything else in the lower

tiers. Are they getting enough food and sleep? Do they feel safe in their environment? Do they

have a sense of belonging? If not then you can better know how to get to the root of the

problem. You are then able to better help the development of that child in all aspects.


Growth mindset, as described by Carol Dweck in Mindset: The New Psychology of

Success, is “believing that your abilities and skills can change over time with hard work and

practice.” Those who have a growth mindset want to know how they can improve and thrive on

challenges because they know that the harder the challenge, the more they will learn and grow.

Fixed mindset, as described in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is also a good principle

to note in your parenting or association with children. You want to be able to help your child to

reshape this kind of thinking. Those who have a fixed mindset believe that “their abilities are

carved in stone and cannot change no matter what they do” (Dweck, 2016). They are also afraid

of failure and only do things that they are comfortable with. Since they want to be seen as

perfect they usually quit when things begin to get too hard for them.

In Mindset, another important parenting principle to note is to allow children to fail

(Dweck, 2016). This may sound hard but it is very much needed. Many times, one may think

that they need to protect children’s self-esteem and in return need to protect them from failure.

However, protecting a child from failure in the long run can be detrimental. Failure, doesn’t

define the child but gives them another opportunity to learn and grow (Dweck, 2016). For

example, if a child doesn’t do well on an exam, a parent may be tempted to talk to the teacher for

them, trying to raise their grade. However, if the child is allowed to fail they learn what they

need to do better and to receive a better grade and understand the material better.


For some it may be different, but for me, after better understanding these four theories I

feel that I am better able to associate with children and guide them to a better future. It has been

through studying and better understanding the attachment theory, temperament, Maslow’s

hierarchy of needs, and mindset that I feel that I can indeed do that and that is my paradigm.

That is how I better view and understand the world.


Aanstoos, C. M. (2013). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health.

Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A

psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Berns, R. (2004). Child, family, school, community: socialization and support. Belmont, CA:

Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, c2004.

Dweck, C. S. (2016). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books,