Article – Attachment and Anxiety in Schools

In the realm of education, the importance of nurturing emotional resilience in children cannot be overstated. This capacity to cope with and manage emotions effectively is crucial for their academic success, social well-being, and overall life trajectory.

A recent study published in 2020(1) highlights the significant impact of emotional absenteeism, defined as persistent school absences due to emotional factors, on children’s academic and social development.

Emotionally-based school avoidance often stems from underlying emotional needs that children may struggle to manage independently. These needs may include anxiety, depression, trauma, or social-emotional difficulties. When children feel overwhelmed by these emotions, school can become a source of distress and avoidance rather than a place of learning and growth.

Safe Learning Environments

A safe and supportive learning environment plays a pivotal role in fostering emotional resilience in these children.  This environment provides a sense of belonging, acceptance, and validation, where children feel comfortable expressing their emotions without fear of judgment or ridicule.

To cultivate a nurturing classroom atmosphere, teachers can:

  • Embrace open communication: Foster a classroom culture where children feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of judgment.
  • Practice active listening: Engage in deep listening, acknowledging, and validating children’s emotions without dismissing or minimising them.
  • Normalise emotional expression: Create a space where children feel comfortable expressing a range of emotions, fostering emotional literacy and healthy coping mechanisms.

Recognising that every child’s emotional needs are unique, schools should adopt a personalised approach to support their emotional well-being.

This may involve:

  • Developing individualised support plans: Collaborating with parents and specialists to create customised plans tailored to each child’s needs.
  • Incorporating emotional intelligence training: Equipping teachers with the skills to recognise and address children’s emotional needs effectively.
  • Providing access to emotion coaching: Facilitating access to appropriate emotional health interventions.

Prioritising the emotional well-being of children affected by emotionally-based school avoidance provides them with a foundation for their emotional growth and a path towards a brighter future.

  1. “The Impact of Emotional Absenteeism on Pupils’ Educational Outcomes” by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), 2020

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