It is my belief that an understanding of attachment styles would help so many people (not only parents and partners).
Clearly people like social workers, counsellors and some other therapists would find this very useful. However people like: teachers and support staff, people working in human resources, people working at management level and many others would find understanding of attachment beneficial.
Quite simply it gives you a basis to understand how to relate to that person. You will understand so much more about why a person reacts as they do and how they relate to other people.
Perhaps a good place to start would be looking briefly at attachment styles, starting with children.
There are commonly thought to be four main attachment styles that are attributed to children
A child that shows secure attachment will have received consistent care giving. A child will trust if a caregiver leaves them, that they will return. They will compose themselves after a brief upset and find something else to do or play until their caregiver returns.
Parents of children who are avoidant tend to be emotionally unavailable. They disregard their child’s needs and are often rejecting. The child seems independent of the caregiver, physically and emotionally.
This is where a child will feel anxiety when separated from their caregiver and does not feel reassured when the caregiver returns. The child has not developed feelings of security from their caregiver. They are difficult to soothe when distressed.
This attachment style (or lack of it) is the most challenging to deal with. The child is likely to mistrust adults due to issues like abandonment, drug misuse, abuse and so on from caregivers and will find it almost impossible to feel safe.
These can be further broken down (i.e Secure avoidant, secure ambivalent etc) but we will stick to these main categories for now.
My belief is that those who have an attachment style other than secure, will still need whatever is missing to be met. Whether that be from friends, partners, teachers, parents, support staff, the state etc. This can mean if the needs are not met that they may become vulnerable and/or be drawn to other similar people (chaos). It also means that if some attempt is not made to support that person (either through self acknowledgement or other support) that they may continue a cycle of avoidant, ambivalent or disorganised parenting or ways of relating to people.
As many of you know my campaign is about schools and increasing their awareness and understanding of issues around trauma, adoption and looked after children.
Why would a better understanding of attachment help schools?
Schools (and teachers) have a vital role to play in supporting children through their school life. Teaching is a demanding job which requires a great deal of skill. As a teacher you are knowledgeable about your subject, however, more importantly (I believe) you need to manage your classroom – the children and their behaviour. Understanding behaviour is key.
My understanding is that teacher training does include more about attachment (instead of the cursory 2 hours I received), however, understanding the impact of behaviour on a child’s learning and the possible source of the behaviour AND to have a plan about how to deal with it, should be key to planning. Dishing out detentions, isolation and negative comments in planners does not work in a positive way, in particular for children with ambivalent, avoidant or disorganised attachment styles. Accessing support for children, using positive behaviour strategies, short-term positive goal setting, positive contact with parents/caregivers will aid teachers understanding, promote positivity in the classroom and help everyone feel progress is being made.
Look out for Part 2 of attachment styles (in adults) in my next blog.
Are you interested in coming along to our Parent Support Group in York? It is for all parents who want support with parenting.
Thursday 4th May – 1pm – 2:30pm
Lidgett Grove Methodist Church
£5 (to cover costs) includes refreshments