The theory of attachment was first developed by John Bowlby (1988). He suggested children need to develop a secure attachment with their main caregiver in their early years. This provides children with secure bases from which to explore and engage with others and their environment.

Secure attachments support mental processes such as:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Self-understanding
  • Empathy
  • Moral reasoning

If a child cannot rely on an adult to respond to their needs in times of stress, and their attachments to main caregivers are insecure, they can have difficulty learning how to self-soothe and manage emotions. These qualities are all necessary to indicate positive engagement with learning. Research has linked attachment to school readiness and school success (Commodari 2013, Geddes 2006).


Communication strategies for an trauma informed classroom:  

Emotional validation

Emotional validation is a communication strategy the act of tuning in, acknowledging, and accepting another person's feelings. Validation is a way of letting someone know we understand him or her. Being understood is an essential ingredient to feeling connected and supported When you validate a child’s experience, you are letting them know they have a safe space to talk and process what they experienced. 

More information

PACE – Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy (D.Hughes)

PACE was developed by Dr Dan Hughes more than 20 years ago. It was created with the aim to support adults in building safe and trusting relationships with children and young people who have experienced trauma. The approach focuses on building meaningful relationships, and emotional connections, while providing the child with a sense of security.

'PACE is a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving that aims to make the child feel safe'. Source

The Attach Team at Oxfordshire council have developed an information leaflet for using PACE in schools.

Fife Educational Psychology service have an information leaflet that includes examples of using PACE in Practice.


Picture source

Further resources

South Lanarkshire Council Psychological Service developed an A-Z guide for attachment and resilience in the Early Years.