Nicola Attwoll Staying Connected

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Nicola Attwoll Staying Connected

  1. 1. Staying Connected: The Role of the School in Fostering Secure Attachment and Resilience in Young People Nicola Atwool Principal Advisor
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Attachment theory and research </li></ul><ul><li>Attachment patterns and young people’s behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Attachment and resilience </li></ul><ul><li>Implications for the school environment </li></ul>With Permission Taonga Education Centre Photographs Used
  3. 3. Attachment theory <ul><li>John Bowlby </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biological base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mary Ainsworth and the Strange Situation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Management of anxiety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sensitive responsiveness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secure base </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Critiques <ul><li>Feminism and concept of maternal deprivation </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared across cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Patterns of behaviour show cultural variation </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Key concepts <ul><li>Patterns of attachment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Secure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ambivalent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoidant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disorganised/disoriented </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intergenerational transmission </li></ul>
  6. 6. Internal Working Models <ul><li>Such models concerning the availability of others and in turn, the self as worthy or unworthy of care, provide a basic context for subsequent transactions with the environment, most particularly social relationships (Sroufe, 1988, p.18). </li></ul>
  7. 7. Internal working models <ul><li>Mental representations </li></ul><ul><li>Play an active role in guiding behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Exist outside of consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Propensity for stability </li></ul><ul><li>Formed out of attachment relevant events </li></ul><ul><li>May be altered through changes in experience and capacity to reflect </li></ul>
  8. 8. Brain Development <ul><li>Not complete at birth </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid growth over first three years </li></ul><ul><li>Sequential and use-dependent </li></ul><ul><li>Attachment crucial </li></ul>
  9. 9. Brain Development <ul><li>This development can proceed in an optimal fashion when the presentation of new stimuli is safe, nurturing and predictable, repetitive, gradual and attuned to the infant’s or child’s development stage. When new experience is chaotic, extreme or mismatched to developmental stage, development is disrupted (Perry & Pollard, 1998). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Brain development <ul><li>Combination of differentiation and integration </li></ul><ul><li>Within secure attachments, such self-organisation may be seen as the gift that caregivers offer to their children: to enable the self to achieve differentiation and integration in acquiring flexible and adaptive means for self regulation (Seigel, 2001, p. 85). </li></ul><ul><li>Self regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective function </li></ul>
  11. 11. IWMs in Adolescence <ul><li>Secure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self perceived as worthy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others perceived as reliable and available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When faced with threat responds with affect and cognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neural integration is promoted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Child achieves adaptive balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primary strategy in new situations is mastery </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Secure Adolescents <ul><li>Present as confident, out-going </li></ul><ul><li>Able to acknowledge distress and seek support </li></ul><ul><li>More able to talk about attachment experiences in ways that reflect balance, perspective and autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge importance of attachment and more likely to be accepted by peers </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to exhibit internalising or externalising behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Less likely to have problems associated with substance abuse </li></ul>
  13. 13. Avoidant <ul><li>Self is perceived as unworthy </li></ul><ul><li>Others are unavailable and hurtful </li></ul><ul><li>Environment is threatening </li></ul><ul><li>Self reliant </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive development but affect is suppressed </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic problem-solving </li></ul>
  14. 14. Avoidant <ul><li>Relationships not regarded as important </li></ul><ul><li>May be underlying anger and resentment </li></ul><ul><li>Dominant strategy is control </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective function is impaired and mental state of others is likely to be shunned </li></ul>
  15. 15. Avoidant Adolescents <ul><li>Present as sullen and withdrawn </li></ul><ul><li>Intermittent outbursts of rage </li></ul><ul><li>Superficial peer relationships </li></ul><ul><li>World is a potentially dangerous place </li></ul><ul><li>Parents idealised </li></ul><ul><li>Less able to acknowledge distress or access support </li></ul><ul><li>Hostility displaced on to peers </li></ul><ul><li>Low ego resilience, higher level of anxiety </li></ul>
  16. 16. Ambivalent <ul><li>Uncertainty about the worthiness of self </li></ul><ul><li>Others are perceived to be unreliable, over-bearing and insensitive </li></ul><ul><li>Environment is unpredictable and chaotic </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive responses are deactivated because they are experienced as ineffective </li></ul><ul><li>Affective responses are amplified </li></ul>
  17. 17. Ambivalent <ul><li>Self-regulation is not achieved </li></ul><ul><li>Helplessness and resentment dominate </li></ul><ul><li>Dominant strategy is manipulation </li></ul><ul><li>Heightened focus on internal state of self with impaired capacity to reflect on the internal state of others </li></ul>
  18. 18. Ambivalent Adolescents <ul><li>Intense and explosive relationships with attachment figures </li></ul><ul><li>Desperately seek relationships but fear rejection </li></ul><ul><li>Attention directed towards distress </li></ul><ul><li>Parents perceived as loving but role reversing </li></ul><ul><li>Have good recall of attachment experiences but </li></ul><ul><li>Preoccupation with attachment experiences reflected in angry, diffuse unfocused discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Higher levels of internalising behaviour </li></ul>
  19. 19. Disorganised <ul><li>Arises in situations of neglect and abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Child faced with task of maintaining proximity to person who is source of threat </li></ul><ul><li>Caregiver frightening or frightened </li></ul><ul><li>Self is perceived to be unworthy </li></ul><ul><li>Others are frightening or helpless </li></ul><ul><li>Environment is chaotic and dangerous </li></ul>
  20. 20. Disorganised <ul><li>Hyper-arousal impairs cognitive development </li></ul><ul><li>Affective responses dominate </li></ul><ul><li>Child is fearful and reactive </li></ul><ul><li>Play is inhibited </li></ul><ul><li>May develop compulsive compliance </li></ul><ul><li>Dominant strategy is survival </li></ul>
  21. 21. Disorganised <ul><li>Capacity to reflect on own internal state is limited, may lack the ability to identify feeling states </li></ul><ul><li>Hypervigilant of caregiver cues and internal state of other </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective capacity significantly impaired </li></ul><ul><li>Significant problems by adolescence </li></ul>
  22. 22. Disorganised Adolescents <ul><li>Increased rates of psychopathology, violent crime </li></ul><ul><li>Higher use of marijuana </li></ul><ul><li>Parental and school-related problems associated with substance use </li></ul><ul><li>Lower self esteem, coping and social mastery </li></ul>
  23. 23. Resilience <ul><li>Four crucial factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual attributes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>External support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural connection </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Attachment instrumental in all four </li></ul>
  24. 24. Resilient Adolescents <ul><li>Secure - high self esteem, access to positive adults, positive expectations of self and others </li></ul><ul><li>Avoidant and ambivalent - lack self-confidence, low self esteem, difficulties negotiating relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Disorganised - no organised coping strategies, most vulnerable </li></ul>
  25. 25. Reworking internal working models <ul><li>Further brain development at adolescence offers opportunity to rework iwms </li></ul><ul><li>Exposure to positive relationship experiences necessary to facilitate this </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing cognitive sophistication enables reflection </li></ul><ul><li>In very difficult situations young people can move away from destructive relationships </li></ul>
  26. 26. Implications for Educators <ul><li>School as a secondary caregiving environment </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary school as secure base </li></ul><ul><ul><li>School as safe place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connection with teachers and other staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of achievement and self-worth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Academic success </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sport and cultural activities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Importance of early intervention </li></ul>
  27. 27. Restorative Practices <ul><li>Enhance sense of connection </li></ul><ul><li>Foster sense of belonging </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce need to use exclusion </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships are the key </li></ul>
  28. 28. Key Factors <ul><li>Restorative approach builds a constructive and inclusive school environment </li></ul><ul><li>Whole school approach requiring commitment from all parties </li></ul><ul><li>Constructive management of disciplinary problems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive reinforcement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Restorative meetings and conferences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Promotion of restorative values </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect rather than denigration </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Key factors <ul><li>Evolutionary process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Takes time to embed changes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ongoing training of staff and development of school structures that promote development of support systems </li></ul><ul><li>Secure long-term funding needed for training and support systems </li></ul>
  30. 30. Changes needed <ul><li>Principal plays key role </li></ul><ul><li>Staff training </li></ul><ul><li>Internal support for students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Counsellors, mentors, buddies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Additional academic support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Referrals to external services where needed </li></ul>
  31. 31. Conclusion <ul><li>Restorative practices help schools find new ways of engaging students and creating learning environments in which students feel they belong and can achieve </li></ul><ul><li>Schools can provide young people with a secure base </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complementing what is available at home </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compensating for what is missing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In this way young people have the opportunity to rework internal working models and resilience is enhanced </li></ul>

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