The mother gratifies the infant’s primary needs for food, for alleviation of pain, for warmth, and tactile stimulation.

Many of these satisfactions are provided as she feeds the baby. For these reasons, the mother’s presence- the visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli she presents- becomes associated with the satisfaction of needs, and she begins to stand for pleasure, relief of tension and contentment.

The infant soon learns to search for and approach his mother is nurturant and gratifies his needs promptly and effectively, she rewards the child’s “approach” responses and these are likely to be repeated.

Positive approach responses to the mother, if frequently and strongly rewarded, will generalize to other people as well. That is, the child will develop favorable social attitudes towards others in a friendly and outgoing manner. In this sense, the childs interactions with his mother form the basis for his reactions toward others.


Gross neglect, abuse and extreme deprivation of affection in early infancy may result in temporary or even enduring mal-adjustments. Infants reared in institutions where they are cared for routinely and without individual attention- tend to be quiet, passive, inactive, unhappy and emotionally disturbed.

The early mother-child relationships that are most important in molding a child’s personality and adjustment are centered about specific needs and activities- for instance feeding toilet training, curiosity and exploration. Later on, broad general features of the home environment and parental attitudes rather than specific child rearing techniques- assumes greater importance and exert more influence.