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Salo, F. Friedmann, M. (1988). The Runaway Bunny Mother: The Long-Term Influence of the Nursery School Experience. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 11(1):53-73.
   

(1988). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 11(1):53-73

The Runaway Bunny Mother: The Long-Term Influence of the Nursery School Experience

Frances Salo and Manna Friedmann

Anna Freud believed that it would be very instructive to follow up some of the children who attended the Centre's Nursery School, particularly those children whose early development aroused concern for their future. Although such follow-ups were not statistically significant, she hoped that they might nevertheless convincingly make the case that experiences in the Nursery School were of significant benefit to some of the more vulnerable children in facilitating their transition to primary school. In the course of following up a number of such children we have also become interested in tracing how certain conflicts which are within the range of normal development become absorbed into the slowly unfolding character of the child.

The first of such longitudinal studies to be published was ‘The Story of Laura’, reported by Alice B. Colonna and Manna Friedmann (1984) in ‘Prediction of Development’. Here the authors examined briefly the literature on the complex topic of short- and long-term prediction, and then traced how Laura, in spite of her extremely difficult circumstances, which persisted throughout her childhood, developed into an unusually competent adult who was happy in her work, marriage and motherhood.

Julian's Story

Julian was another child whom we have followed through to young adulthood and who is now 21. Although in terms of years our study of him is not quite as long as our study of Laura, on the other hand we have much more early data on him. From 6 weeks onwards he attended the Well-Baby Clinic and he was also observed at home by a member of staff from his fourth month onwards. The events which adversely affected Julian's development occurred in the second half of his first year of life and on being admitted early to the Nursery School, he presented as a highly sensitive child who became extremely anxious when faced with separation, a picture all the more striking in that all those who had observed him in his early months had described him as a well-endowed baby, who had had a good start in life.

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