The relationship of separation anxiety to the history of attachments among preschool children

Is separation anxiety in preschool children related to their experiences with maintaining accesibility and proximity to primary caregivers and other familiar people as well as the continuity of familiar locales in the past and present? To investigate this, 45 preschool children and mothers, predominately white and middle class, were subjects of a study at two preschool facilities. Within the first week of school entrance each child’s parent completed the Parental Anxiety Rating Scale (PAR6) of six items on which separation anxiety was rated. Teachers rated the children on a scale of six items regarding their adjustment to school, at the end of the day, three times during a nine week period. Each mother was interviewed for 45 minutes on 39 scored items. Measures of separation anxiety made by parents and teachers correlated, using Pearson’s r at .42, significant at the .01 level. Results indicate there were no correlations between separation anxiety and children’s access to familiar persons and places. When the poorest separators were identified by the teachers, agreement on separation anxiety demonstrated by a significant correlation between the parent and teacher measures, occurred only for the first observation period (r = .71, p < .05). Correlations between the school adjustment measure and the measure of the familial setting for this group correlated at the .05 level of significance (r = .64). Results were opposite than those hypothesized. (See more in text.)