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Understanding Attachment

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Understanding Attachment

This has been written for us by Dr Tina Rae, an HCPC registered Educational and Child Psychologist, Author and Educational Consultant.

John Bowlby’s (1969) Attachment Theory argues that children acquire age-appropriate behaviour through their interactions with significant others (usually the child’s mother, father or other key guardian), and that children’s socio-emotional resilience is greater when their attachments are secure.

It’s important to note that the early symptoms of insecure attachment; lack of eye contact, lack of physical interaction, constant crying etc., are like the early symptoms of other issues such as ADHD and Autism.  When parents and carers spot any of these warning signs, they need to seek medical help.

We know that childhood trauma and its concomitant stress, is likely to trap students in a physiological state of persistent alarm that makes learning in school impossible.  The good news is that, with sufficient nurture and support from adults, children can form secure attachments and return their stress to tolerable or good levels.

Top tips for helping a child with Attachment Disorder:

Have realistic expectations

Focus on making small steps forward and celebrate every sign of success.

Patience is essential

By remaining patient and focusing on small improvements, we can create an atmosphere of safety for the child.

Take care of yourself

Learn how to manage stress more effectively.

Find support and ask for help

Try to ask for help before you really need it to avoid getting stressed to breaking point.

Stay positive and hopeful

Be sensitive to the fact that children pick up on feelings.  If they sense you’re discouraged, it will be discouraging to them. When you are feeling down, turn to others for reassurance and build up a support network which will enable you to avoid a sense of burnout.

Learn how to be an Emotion Coach

This way of interacting with young children is the best approach in terms of managing their behaviour and supporting their own ability to self-soothe.

An excellent resource for more information on this subject is Emotion Coaching: A resource bank for parents, carers and professionals, Dr Tina Rae and Amy Such. (2017). For information on this subject by Dr Tina Rae and similar resources, click here.
For Nurture Group's website, click here.

To get in touch with a member of the Fresh Start in Education team, click here

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