Attachment Theory


Attachment to their caregivers in children occurs mainly due to survival reasons. Caregivers feed them and provide security through provision of safe environment that is free from dangers that might cause damage to the children. The attachment is also important, as caregivers help infants learn languages, which aids them in communication with different people. They also tend to learn good moral conduct, as well as good manners.

The mother is the most principal immediate caregiver to the infant, and the infant tends to develop stronger attachments to the mother than to anyone else. In cases where the mother is not there, any person who takes care of the infant/children will be attached to them. In this way, children/infants tend to develop characteristics and behaviors of their caregivers. Children develop at different stages of life and they tend to show different behaviors depending on how they have been taken care of, as well as how they have socialized with different people (Chodorow, 1978).

Relationships formed among human beings, especially between infants and mothers, lead to growth and development which is accompanied by different characteristics depending on the environment and treatment given to those human beings. The attachment developed between teachers and students determines the level of students’ achievement academically. Therefore, it is important that positive relationships/attachments are developed between teachers and students to ensure that the students gain mutual benefits from the attachment.

The attachment theory can be applied in school by teachers to achieve good results among students. This essay will explain how the attachment theory can be applied by teachers to help students reap positive benefits in school.


The Attachment Theory

The attachment theory tends to describe the various dynamics of long–term relationships among human beings. The most important aspect of this theory is that a child should develop some attachment with no less than one primary caretaker to enable emotional and social development to take place in a normal way. The theory tends to be an interdisciplinary study that involves different fields, such as evolutionary, ethological and psychological (Cain & Fast, 1972).  The theory came into being in the aftermath of the Second World War when many children were orphaned and homeless. This situation did present numerous challenges to the United Nations Organization. John Bowlby, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, was requested by the UN to write a research paper on the issue.  It was after carrying out his studies on the issue that he was able to develop the attachment theory.

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Forming attachments in infants helps them develop communication skills. Infants are taught the language of communication by their caretakers as they grow. Caretakers teach infants how to speak and understand the language, as well as pronounce different words in the language in question. This is necessitated by the caretaker who teaches the child the process of communication using a specific language (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). If a new language is to be taught to the child at school, it can be done by teachers who these children will develop attachment to.

Emotions can be a reaction of children to different conditions. For instance, under strained conditions children behave and express their emotions to counteract the stress that they face. Children exhibit different forms of behavior, such as crying when they are beaten, crying when they are hungry, or crying when they are wet. Therefore, all these emotions should be guided and controlled appropriately (Byng-Hall, 1985). This will enable children to know how to deal with emotions when they encounter them in their growth process.

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Children behaviors, such as emotions, are also determined by the kind of attachment they form with their caregivers. Those responsible for taking care of children give them proper directions, as well as serve as role models in terms of behavior. As a result, children will develop and adopt behaviors that will facilitate their growth and development. Good manners are taught to children at early stages of development. In most cases, the type of behavior exhibited by caretakers will be the same behavior that children will develop.

The following graph will be used to show the process of developing attachments between infants and their caretakers. This graph illustrates development of positive relationship between the infant and the caregiver.

This graph indicates that the infant tends to depend mainly on the caretaker at anearly age. As the infant grows, their relationships with the caregiver tend to grow, too. This form of development can be credited to the reality in that the infant tends to develop a strong attachment toward his/her caretaker. Factors that can be attributed to this form of growth include the security that the infant receives from the caregiver, as well as the food given to the infant by the caregiver among other factors. If the caretaker displays good conduct, the infant will borrow the caretaker’s good attributes as he/she grows to become an adult.

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The caretaking environment and infant caretaker attachment determine the infant’s development pathway in life. Any form of disturbance of relationship can come as a result of a series of changes that tend to take the infant away from adaptive working. Child abuse, as well as cumulative growth shock, tend to violate the infant’s sense of identity and have a negative impact on personality development (Bretherton& Waters,1985).

Early shocks that result from abuse, neglect, loss or cruel parent-infant misattunement compromise brain-mediating functioning (empathy), attachment and regulation. From the perspective of the attachment theory, patterns of relationships are determined and then stored in the implicit memory of the infant.

Application of the Attachment Theory in School by Teachers

Attachments are very crucial in school, especially attachments developed between teachers and students, as they determine the level of growth and character that the student will develop when in school. They also dictate the level of academic performance that the student will achieve while in school. Therefore, teachers should apply the attachment theory in school to develop good relationships with students.

The theory can also be applied to molding the character of the students at school. The school can come up with programs, whereby a group of students can be assigned to a teacher who will act as their caretaker. The attachment that will be developed between the students and the teacher will ensure that the students develop the right character and achieve their academic goals. The teacher provides guidance, motivation and encouragement to enable the students to achieve their goals. The attachment developed between the students and the teacher is crucial, as it molds the students’ behavior in the future. It also heavily contributes toward the students developing a long-lasting relationship with the teacher, as well as members of their group.

The following graph shows the relationship that exists between the student and the teacher.

The graph shows that when there is a strong relationship between the students and the teacher, the students tend to develop the strong attachment theory. This relationship positively influences the good performance of the student.

The teacher can use the attachment theory while teaching second languages to the students. The teacher can act as a caretaker and develop attachment with the students by teaching them how to pronounce different words in the language that is being taught. Through learning a language, the students will also develop some form of attachment to the teacher. The way they pronounce different words will depend on how the teacher taught them to pronounce the words.

Therefore, the teacher can use the attachment theory to develop mutually beneficial relationships with the students. The attachment between the student and the teacher will determine the level of achievement that one attains when in school. A positive relationship will strongly contribute toward attainment of goals by the students. On the other hand, a negative relationship between the students and the teacher will strongly contribute toward poor performance of the student. In conclusion, it is up to the teacher to develop the appropriate attachments with the students that will contribute toward the success of both the teacher and the student.


Attachments are important in human life. Lack of attachment in life makes one feel unwanted and lonely in one’s life. Attachments help one overcome all kinds of challenges in one’s life. Attachments also determine one’s emotional as well as social behavior. According to the attachment theory, relationships between humans begin when one is at a tender age. Infants develop attachment to their mothers or persons who bring them up. They tend to develop strong emotional and psychological attachments to their caretakers (Cassidy, 1988).

Studies indicate that the kinds of attachments the infant develops at an early age will greatly impact the level of achievements that he/she attains in life. If one develops attachments to failures, there is a high probability that the infant will grow up to be a failure. The type of attachments that the infant develops determines his attitude toward certain situations. If people an individual is attached to have negative attitude toward life, there is a high likelihood that the individual will develop a negative attitude, too.

Therefore, individuals should strive to develop positive attachments that will help them achieve their goals in life. It is the role of caretakers to ensure that children develop positive attachments that will contribute to their wellbeing in the future. Behaviors, emotions and social cycles that infants/children are attached to should help them develop positive attachments in their lives. The attachment theory can also be used by teachers to help them develop the right attachments in their students.

In conclusion, the attachment theory is very important and should, therefore, be applied by teachers, scholars and parents to ensure that children develop positive attachments from an early age.

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