Attachment theory is an important framework that helps us to understand children & young people's (and adults') behaviour.  The phrase attachment difficulties is commonly used despite there being no standard definition of what this means, which can lead to confusion and make it difficult to talk to parents, children and young people about. 

Researchers generally agree that there are four main factors that influence attachment security: opportunity to establish a close relationship with a primary caregiver; the quality of caregiving; the child’s characteristics; and the family context. Secure attachment is an important protective factor for mental health later in childhood, while attachment insecurity is widely recognised as a risk factor for the development of behaviour problems.

The strongest evidence supports:

• video feedback-based interventions with the mothers of pre-school children with attachment problems, with a focus on enhancing maternal sensitivity.

Evidence also supports:

• use of approaches which use play as the basis for developing more positive child/parent relationships.

 Reference: Mental Health & Behaviour in Schools, 2016 (DfE)


The information below is designed to help schools be well informed about attachment theory and how they can better understand their students' behaviour through this.

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