Attachment in the Classroom: How does a secure teacher-child relationship compensate for the negative impacts of an insecure parent-child attachment?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Hayley Frisby
Submitted: May 2014

It is largely accepted that insecure parental attachments are likely to impact negatively upon children’s social, emotional, cognitive and behavioural development. It is now thought that a warm and nurturing relationship with a teacher can help to compensate for some of these detrimental impacts. This essay examines the extent to which a teacher-child attachment can buffer for poor attachment histories and how this effect might take place, with consideration of these four areas of development. The applications for an Educational Psychologist, in terms of encouraging and promoting secure teacher-child relationships are considered throughout. The essay concludes that in consideration of the evidence, educational professionals need to increase their awareness of attachment theory and of the nature and impact of the teacher-child relationship, as this is likely to help them to better understand and support the behaviour and needs of children coming from less secure attachment backgrounds. Despite large increases in the research base supporting the influence of teacher-child attachment, many adults working with these vulnerable children in schools remain unfortunately unaware of the power of relationships and of the importance of identifying and intervening with these pupils. Given that roughly four out of ten children are thought to have insecure attachments with their main caregiver (Moullin, Waldfogel & Washbrook, 2014), the significance of these insights and interventions that attachment theory and the surrounding research can provide is clear.

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