One of the challenges when working with children who have complex needs is ensuring that education authorities address their care and management requirements with understanding and sensitivity.
Too often, the primary focus of education authorities is behavioural control and an over-reliance on reward and punishment paradigms.
This approach overlooks the fact that behaviour is a form of communication. For children who have complex needs, behaviour is often a primary form of communication.
Over-reliance on reward and punishment paradigms results in the child having the experience that they are not being heard and that nobody cares about them. This increases the likelihood of maladaptive behaviours, low self-esteem and unhelpful attitudes towards others.
Over-reliance on reward and punishment paradigms neglects the central role of relationships in influencing personal development and behaviour.
I was pleased to discover that education authorities in the UK recognise the importance of attachment in educating children with complex needs (see here). I appreciated the citation and the fact that my own work concerning attachment and children with complex care needs is recognised as a worthwhile resource for educators in the UK, alongside the work of the founding father of Attachment Theory, John Bowlby.
Behavior is a form of communication. You are absolutely right. I see this every day in the classroom. So how do you help a child feel heard in a school setting?
Hi Ashanam. Thanks for your comment. I recommend that the teacher consider why the child is acting in the way that they are, and respond to the why as well as the what the child is doing. I also recommend that the teacher verbalise out loud what they think the child is thinking, feeling, or why they did what they did. Definitely, no questions of the child; just statements.
Sadly it would seem that training on attachment for teachers in the uk is very limited, if at all, in Main stream school. Through my own experience of my girls school and through speaking with other adopters in the uk, i’ve discovered very little is known, if anything at all, about attachment by UK teachers, some had never even heard the word ‘attachment’, others didn’t understand what it was. Not surprisingly the many adopted children attending the classes of these teachers across the UK have been, and still are, struggling in school.
Sorry to hear that . . . but not surprised. I struggle almost daily to improve outcomes for children in education.