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Cohen, P. Grant, B. (1985). Observation of a Toddler during a Crisis. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 8(4):275-281.

(1985). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 8(4):275-281

Observation of a Toddler during a Crisis

Pauline Cohen and Barbara Grant

The ages of the toddlers in the Mother-Toddler Observation Group range from 15 months to 3 years. Referrals come, in the main, from the Well-Baby Clinic run by the Centre. They are a selected group who may already be demonstrating some developmental strain as junior toddlers. The group offers a supportive, shared experience to the mothers, and stimulation to their toddlers, for whom it is usually the first away-from-home-group adventure-playground. Where we think it could be helpful we offer intervention, ranging from the purely educational to counselling and, in some cases, mother guidance. However, this has to be carefully monitored as the mother-toddler couple do not join the group as patients. The links with the Well-Baby Clinic and the Centre's Nursery School are close. The continued, ongoing attendance of the toddlers at the Well-Baby Clinic allows for a more rounded study of the mother-child couple; the Nursery School teacher plays a major part in the assessment of those toddlers who, because of developmental strain or behavioural problems, might qualify for a place in the Nursery School.

This year, in our group of eight toddlers, two stood out as disturbed. One, Andy, had had a bad start in life and moved into the ‘rapprochement phase’ in great distress. We assigned a student to attempt to make a relationship with him, and this dramatically changed Andy's attitude to visiting the group. Now, at the age of 2 years 4 months, he asks for the student observer and can enjoy an active and pleasurable afternoon.

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