Children's Understanding of Emotion in the System of Care


  • Cristina Sanz Guerra Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
  • Purificación Sierra García Departamento de Psicología Evolutiva y de la Educación Facultad de Psicología Uned



system of care, attachment system, child's understanding, internal working model


The mother-child relationship has traditionally been stud­ied from the perspective of attachment theory. But in addition, they are a psychological and social phenome­non to which the child gives meaning and tries to under­stand. To explore the child's understanding of this dimen­sion of the relationship, we interviewed 85 children be­tween 7 and 9 years old through a semi-structured inter­view with four stories, in which the Attachment System and the System of Care were related. The analysis of the children's responses shows that 97 % attribute discomfort in the mother in relation to the experience of threat of the child. Children of these ages already have an understand­ing of the Mother's System of Care in connection with the child's attachment system. The responsibility and empathy of the mother are part of the responses of chil­dren of these ages as activators of their behavior of care and protection for the child. Children´s representations can be organized at increasingly sophisticated and com­plex levels of understanding. Knowing the feelings and motivations that children attribute to the mother in her role of primary caregiver and the child's vision of the emotional laws that govern affective mother-child rela­tionships, can offer us new perspectives on how attach­ment relationships are built and be useful in the detection and intervention in unhealthy attachments, in both mem­bers of the dyad.


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How to Cite

Sanz Guerra, C., & Sierra García, P. (2017). Children’s Understanding of Emotion in the System of Care. Acción Psicológica, 14(2), 241–252.



Artículos de temática libre [Selection of articles]