How attachment styles can affect a young person's behaviour and thinking





What the child maybe thinking

How to adapt our thinking at school

Physically or verbally abusive I am scared so react by fighting back Avoid threat or removal or rejection.  Time in not 'time out'.  Speculate about what has happened to the child (don't ask child to explain)
Does not follow instructions I am anxious and have too much going around in my head to listen Describe a plan at the start and help the child to remember every step.  Provide memory aides
Playtime difficulties I feel rejected by my peers and feel stressed in the playground Introduce tighter structure and supervision, and create an inside safe area
Stealing I do not realise that you may feel upset Suggest actions that repair damaged relationships
Can not take praise I am unlovable and do not deserve praise Praise privately may be more acceptable and be specific about what you are praising
Poor concentration I scan the room for danger Seat the child where you can see them but there is nobody behind them
Refuses to do the work If I am wrong it will lead to rejection Offer acceptable choices.  Make tasks very structured.  Use encouraging words - 'Are you feeling worried because the work is hard?'
Demands teachers attention often


I think you will forget about me.



Notice the child explicitly and give the child responsibility for things (not people)



Withdrawn and unable to make friends


I can not reply on anybody.  I am frightened and nobody will like me. Introduce a buddy system and encourage the child to help others at school.  Have a named person with whom the child feels safe with.
Oppositional  I need to stay in control so I don't get hurt. Avoid showing anger or irritation and start the next day as a completely new day.  Recognise triggers and feelings.


Bear in mind children that have experienced developmental trauma have often missed on certain experiences so they have the emotional needs of a much younger child due to missed experiences.  At school it is important to look at for patterns of behaviour and learn what triggers these, help children learn how to recognise their feelings and triggers and make sure you have regular progress meetings and that targets are achievable, measurable and manageable.    Communicate any personal achievements and be aware of potential triggers of cirriculum topics.

Adapted from: Supporting adopted children in school a guide for parents and schools - Essex County Council