Young Children in Brief Separation – The Importance of Substitute Mothering


Short version of ‘Young Children in Brief Separation John and Jane’.

SKU: 1666
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Producer: James and Joyce Robertson
Year Produced: 1971
Running time: 21 minutes


This derivative film presents the main theme of two films from the series Young Children in Brief Separation: a young child separated from their mother needs to be put into the care of one person who will act as a mother to him, attentive and always there to give comfort. John, aged 17 months, is looked after by changing nurses in a residential nursery and tries unsuccessfully to find one who will mother him. He turns for comfort to large teddy bears, deteriorates day by day, and at a reunion rejects his mother. In contrast Jane, who is also 17 months, is cared for by a foster mother to whom she makes a close relationship. Her good development continues, and at reunion she goes warmly to her mother. But the caution is made that no matter how good the substitute care, separation from the mother remains a hazard for young children.

James and Joyce Robertson
A guide booklet accompanies the film.

Contrasts the main themes of JOHN and JANE. 13 minutes from JOHN, age 17 months, selected to show his unsuccessful search for a nurse to take the place of his absent mother, turning for comfort to large teddy bears, the steady deterioration and his rejection of the mother at reunion. In contrast, 8 minutes from JANE, also 17 months, who makes a close relationship to the foster mother, does not regress but continues good development, and at reunion welcomes her mother. This short video is an introduction to the subject for school children of 13 years and older.”These films have a strong appeal to 15 year olds and over. The response is one of total attention, and afterwards thoughtful questions and discussions about family relationships.”

Times Educational Supplement