Attachment styles – how school staff can react

Summary of attachment styles, behaviours to expect, and guidance on ways to react

Anxious avoidant – child will overly focus on the task/task becomes focus

  • Approach to classroom tasks: Often not willing to write; Needs to be autonomous; Apparent indifference to anxiety
  • Approach to teachers: Will not ask for help; Tries/likes to keep distance from teacher; The task acts as an emotional safety barrier between pupil and teacher
  • Strategies

o   Group teaching – teacher can teach to group rather than direct

o   Structured activities with clear boundaries

Anxious ambivalent – child appears dependant on teacher and teacher attention

  • Characteristics: Well developed language; Works well in 1:1 situations; Attendance issues
  • Strategies – reassure child that the child is kept in mind

o   Give child special object (teachers) to keep safe

o   Special hand signals from across the room regularly

o   Return to check work frequently. eg, every (4) mins.

Disorganised – Lack of response to being told what to do

  • Characteristics: Constant state of vigilance (hypervigilance); Heightened state of anxiety; Lack of trust towards teacher (sometimes better with headteacher); difficulty accepting authority; Little understanding of cause and effect – poor peer relationships; Lack of response to rewards/sanctions; Learning difficulties – underachieving;  Finds conceptual thought difficult; Unable to permit the teacher to know more than they do; Tasks may be seen to highlight incompetence = humiliation and rejection
  • Strategies – Lack of response to being told what to do, so: Visual timetables, write homework down etc; Reliable, predictable routines become the ‘safety net’; Place of safety – ‘safe haven’
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