Current theory holds that if a child does not properly attach itself to a caregiver in the first three years, the implications for later life are profound. This can show up in the form of attachment disorders, overly aggressive behavior, serious learning problems, and delinquency.
The film crew followed three children, ages ten months to three years, who are insecurely attached to their primary caregiver. All belong to middle class, low risk, intact families. When the Bough Breaks traces them through three months of Wait, Watch, and Wonder therapy at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre of Toronto.
Two of the children have never slept through an entire night or an entire naptime. The third child has a serious eating disorder. She holds food in her mouth for up to three hours. The families of these children are pushed to the edge of despair in trying to manage them.
All three mothers talked with their child's pediatrician about their frustrations, to no avail. In desperation they turned to the Hincks Centre for help.
Through the course of a comprehensive assessment of each child and mother, therapists search for clues about the quality of their relationship. Each of the mothers has a difficult time understanding the needs and wants of her baby..
And each child is identified with insecure attachment. With considerable initial skepticism the mothers begin eight weeks of Wait, Watch and Wonder play sessions with their children.
Cameras are placed in the homes of the families and videotapes of therapy sessions are used to observe the behavior of the children and their interaction with their parents. It becomes clear that children, even before they can speak, can show signs of disturbance.
In such cases, if there is no intervention, an entire family can be thrown into turmoil. Throughout the process of Wait, Watch and Wonder the parents talk about how they feel, what they have learned, and about changes in their children and the impact of the program on their families.
Available As: DVD format
Produced By: Canadian Broadcast Corporation
Running Time: 90 minutes