Roots of Attachment – an introduction Monday 8th November 2010 Gareth D Morewood Director of Curriculum Support Introduction and Aims To understand the concept of attachment as a foundation for emotional and cognitive growth To consider the role of the adult (parent/carer/professional) in promoting attachment/positive relationships To consider the behaviours you may see in the classroom Lets start thinking... Imagine you are in a dangerous situation (Tsunami, Twin Towers...) You have a mobile…who do you phone? What makes this relationship special? What are its positive characteristics? Attachment Attachment behaviour is there to ensure the survival of the child Attachment is an affectionate bond between two individuals that endures through space and time and serves to join them emotionally Attachment experiences are fundamental to emotional/social/physical/cognitive development Good early attachments serve to promote resilience to later traumatic experiences Developing attachment The foundation of attachment is the early main carer/child interaction. Attunement refers to the interaction between a parent and child when the parent is available to the child is able to understand its needs responds appropriately to meet needs communicates that the child is valued, understood, is able to effect change, is safe Consider the brain... What does your brain look and feel like? Your brain is the size of a large grapefruit but it looks like a large pinkish -gray walnut or cauliflower There are many folds and creases and it feels soft and squishy, with the consistency of pate It weighs about 1 pound at birth, 2 pounds at four years and 3 pounds as an adult A living brain is so soft that you could cut it with a butter knife The brain hierarchy The outermost and top layer of the brain is the cerebral cortex The cerebral cortex is the most recently evolved and most complex part of the brain As one moves lower into the brain, the parts have increasingly primitive and basic functions and are less likely to require conscious control The brain stem The brainstem, hind brain or ‘primitive brain’ is located at the bottom of the brain, above the neck where it connects to the spinal cord It controls reflexes such as sneezing, coughing and swallowing It is responsible for automatic and essential survival functions such as breathing, heartbeat, digestion and keeping your body alive while you sleep The Mid Brain - Cerebellum and Limbic System Is involved in emotion, motivation and emotional association with long term memory Controls muscle movement, balance and co-ordination Also controls emotion and impulse, fight/flight or freeze responses And regulates blood pressure, hunger, thirst, sexual arousal and sleep cycle The cerebral cortex The cerebral cortex or front brain is the largest part of the brain and is divided into two sides called the right and left hemispheres The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body; the left hemisphere controls the right side [or does it?] These two hemispheres are connected by nerves through the Corpus Callosum Processes hearing, speech and language, vision and sensory stimuli and is where thinking and problem solving takes place Impact on the brain The brain is developing rapidly during early childhood – attachment behaviours are the key There are ‘critical periods’ or ‘windows of opportunity’ Neglect, stress or trauma can have a profound effect on neurological development http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/factfiles/brain/brain.shtml Attachment Theory Positive Attachment Cycle NEED AROUSAL RELAXATION / TRUST / SECURITY SATISFACTION Secure attachment 67% of children are securely attached Young secure children protest when separated from their mothers but will accept comfort from her when she returns and will soon settle to exploratory behaviour using her as a ‘secure base’. Attachment helps the child to... Attain full cognitive potential “I am safe to explore, experiment, learn” To develop a healthy sense of self “I am loved and valued” Develop emotional intelligence; i.e. to understand feelings in self and others, express feelings appropriately and manage/regulate those feelings. “I am understood, its safe to express feelings” To develop interpersonal skills “I can communicate” Attachment Theory Negative Attachment Cycle NEED Arousal HYPERAROUSAL or DISSOCIATION REJECTION Characteristics of negative attachment Inability to regulate emotions. (rage, panic, depression, impulsivity) Basic mistrust (if someone is nice it must be a trick) Low self esteem/high shame (I am bad, I deserve to be hurt) Need for control (I need to take care of myself, I don’t trust/understand others) Learning difficulties (concentration, self belief, dissociation) Exceptions Not all children who show disturbed attachment behaviours have experienced abusive or inadequate parenting Some children have temperamental traits or neurological or physical difficulties which affects their behaviour For some children their attachment has been affected by experiences outside of the family such as exposure to trauma or separation Attachment styles Avoidant Resistant / Ambivalent Disorganised / Disorientated Learning profile – avoidant attachment Response to the task: Approach to school/classroom: •Need to be autonomous and independent •Apparent indifference to uncertainty in new situations •Hostility towards teacher is directed towards task Skills and difficulties: •Limited use of creativity •Likely to be underachieving •Limited use of language •Task operates as an emotional safety barrier between pupil and teacher Response to the teacher: •Denial of need for support and help •Sensitivity to proximity of the teacher Learning profile – resistant/ambivalent attachment Approach to school/classroom: •high level of anxiety and uncertainty Response to task: •difficulties attempting task if unsupported •Unable to focus on task for fear of losing teacher’s attention Response to teacher: •Need to hold onto attention of teacher •Apparent dependence on teacher in order to engage in learning •Expressed hostility to teacher when frustrated Skills and Difficulties: •likely to be underachieving •Language may be well developed but not consistent with levels of achievement •Numeracy may be weak Learning profile – disorganised/disorientated attachment Approach to school/classroom: •Intense anxiety which may be expressed as controlling and omnipotent Response to the teacher: •Great difficulty in experiencing trust in authority of teacher (may submit to Head of School) •May be unable to accept being taught and/or unable to “permit” the teacher to know more than they do Response to task: •Task may seem like challenge to fears of incompetence – feelings of humiliation and task rejection. •Difficulty accepting “not knowing” •May appear omnipotent and to know everything already. Skills and Difficulties: •May seem unimaginative and uncreative, and find conceptual thought difficult •Likely to be underachieving and possibly at a very immature stage of learning Promoting positive attachment and building resilience Some children fare better than others despite attachment difficulties / neglect / abuse Whilst it is not always possible to provide an ideal home environment for children, strengthening their protective factors, promoting their positive attachments and boosting their resilience can enhance the likelihood of a better long-term outcome Key factors associated with resilience: - a sense of self esteem and confidence - a belief in own self-efficacy (the belief that you can influence your own thoughts and behaviours) - an ability to cope with change and a range of problem solving approaches Factors that improve resilience include: - a good educational experience - a key supportive adult - talents and interests School resilience factors Female Sense of competence Internal locus of control Empathy Problem solving skills Communication skills Significant adult relationship Sociable Independent Reflective Ability to concentrate Emotional expressiveness Sense of humour Hobbies Autonomy Role models What worked for you? Structure: routines, boundaries, task completion, rituals, claiming behaviours Engagement: Non verbal, using child’s name, early games Nurture: soothing, rocking, non-verbal, care routines (feeding, dressing, bath times etc) Challenge: learning new skills/small steps/support What can we do? Humour Warmth Attention Praise Reward Acknowledge Respect Circle Time Buddy systems Mentors Quiet rooms Social skills training Counselling Work with parents Self esteem building Therapeutic experiences? Relaxation Bringing arousal levels down Laughter and humour Solution focussed thinking - what went well rather than what went wrong Visualisation References/further reading Works by John Bowlby, Vera Fahlberg etc The Science of Parenting by Margot Sutherland, DK Publishing, 2006 Attachment in the Classroom, by Heather Geddes, Worth Publishing, 2006 http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/hum anbody/body/factfiles/brain/brain.s html Thanks for listening [and your understanding!!!!] Remember, if you want to know more, just ask, we can find answers to almost anything!! Thanks for your ongoing hard work and support in ensuring some of our most vulnerable learners get a decent chance.