Understanding attachment theory in childcare can help childcare workers to assist the growth and development of all children in their care.
What is attachment theory and how does it relate to childcare?
Attachment theory relates to the parent-child relationship and how attachment will affect the child’s development. Simply put, the baby needs to develop a relationship with the parent to develop in a healthy way.
Attachment theory in childcare becomes really important particularly when a child has not developed the ability to trust his carers to respond to and care for his/her needs. A familiarity with attachment theory will allow the carer to work out what is the best action to take to help the child grow and develop.
Attachment Theory was initially proposed by psychiatrist John Bolby who believed that attachment begins at birth and how attachment is made will have a huge impact upon the child’s adult life
The principle idea of infant attachment theory is that children are much more likely to establish a sense of security when mothers are available and responsive to their needs. The child grows to understand that she is dependable. Ths dependability creates a secure platform from which the child can explore its surroundings.
Children who develop secure attachments to their primary caregivers are able to rely upon their caregivers to give them support and encouragement to explore their environment. It has been observed that children with secure attachments have better outcomes socially, emotionally, in an educational sense and mental health than those children who don’t. Furthermore the attachment relations formed in the first years of childhood are believed to have a major influence on later social relationships.
Four main attachment styles , or patterns of attachment have been identified by researchers, These attachment theory stages are:
When compared to children with ambivalent or avoidant attachment styles, this group of children has been found to be less aggressive, less disruptive and more mature.
As attachment theory in early childhood education is considered critical in a child’s development, its principles can be applied to great effect in a daycare setting.
One of the best techniques to use in relation to the principles and concepts of attachment theory is the practice known as emotion coaching.
Emotion coaching focuses on helping children to develop an awareness of their emotions and helping them to manage feelings especially when “misbehaving”’ A skilled emotion coach is able to create an atmosphere of positive learning while having the confidence to defuse volatile emotional situations when misbehavior can present challenges.
Emotion coaching is not so much about traditional coaching, rather it involves supporting children to learn about and regulate their behaviour and emotions. The concepts of rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour are not part of the emotional coaching model.
Emotion coaching entails
Emotion coaching involves five steps that any influential adult can put into place when working with children. The five steps are:
Attachment theory cannot be relied upon to explain every aspect of a personality; however it does give a solid framework to understand how children develop. It also provides some groundwork in gaining a greater understanding of you.