How to Teach About Attachment Theory in the Classroom

Written by kristin jennifer
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How to Teach About Attachment Theory in the Classroom
Attachment theory addresses the mother-child bond developed as soon as a baby enters the world. (mother and baby image by goce risteski from

Attachment theory addresses the ability or inability for adults to form lasting love bonds. The theory suggests that the bond between mother and infant, whether good or bad, later informs the love bonds that individuals develop with other humans throughout life, but especially in adulthood. Adults may relive the same level of security experienced as infants when in interdependent relationships. Educators wishing to teach attachment theory in a classroom will need to identify the nature of the class and progress with teaching the subject accordingly. The essence of the course can be taught by progressively building upon the fundamental idea.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Assess your audience. Student groups range from parents seeking to improve parenting skills to degree candidates depending on the situation. Determining who your students are collectively will inform an approach to teaching. Parent groups may be served by using terms such as "you and your child" rather than third person references to "parents" and "children".

  2. 2

    Describe the basic principle of attachment theory. Attachment theory posits that the bond between mother and child influences a person's lifelong view of the world. Explain how the theory centres primarily on the relationship between mother and child because the mother is the first individual with whom the child forms a relationship.

  3. 3

    Give reasons for the infant's attachment to his mother such as the infant's complete dependence on the mother for security and sustenance.

  4. 4

    Identify keys to building a healthy attachment with an infant. A mother who is available and accommodating to the needs of her child, makes frequent eye contact, is warmly affectionate and is consistently responsive to her child's cues, nurtures a positive attachment with her child.

  5. 5

    Explain the benefits considered to be the result of a healthy mother-infant attachment bond. Point out how each behaviour of the mother contributes to the child's sense of trust, sense of self, ability to focus, understanding of empathy, ability to express himself/herself and willingness to explore new experiences.

  6. 6

    Outline the circumstances that can interrupt a parent's ability to nurture an attachment with a child. Scenarios such as a family crisis, child's medical condition, child's temperament and the parent's own attachment issues can negatively impact a mother's ability to form a healthy bond with her child.

  7. 7

    Spell out how a mother can fail to build an attachment bond with her child. Examples can include unavailable and tuned out from the child's needs and cues, inconsistency, intrusiveness, physical abuse and tendency to ignore the child. Explain how these behaviours correlate to one of five attachment styles: secure, avoidant, ambivalent, disorganised and reactive.

  8. 8

    Detail the lasting negative effects of an unhealthy attachment between mother and child. Describe how insecure attachments can cause individuals to have difficulty in forming attachments in adult relationships.

  9. 9

    Use handouts and white screen projections of graphs, charts and photographs as visual aids while discussing attachment theory. Require students to take notes while the theory is discussed.

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