These changes in the brain, though not fully understood, may be linked
to later behavioral and learning problems in children.
Often relational experiences that result in insecure attachment pat-
terns are considered traumatic—thus the term attachment trauma. (See
chapter 2 for more on trauma in early childhood.) While children’s initial
attachment experiences can play a huge role in their later relationships,
it is important to note that children’s social development is complex and
that key supportive relationships later on down the road can potentially
alter the course of a life on social and neurological levels (Szalavitz and
Perry 2010). This is good news for early childhood educators wanting to
support children in their healing from early harmful experiences.
Attachment Issues in the Classroom
Virtually all teachers at every level are unaware of the infant and toddler
experiences of their students. However, they may see the behavioral clues
to insecure attachments or attachment trauma every day, often without
realizing what they are seeing. Again, certain children who act out in
class may never have developed adequate self-regulation skills. Realizing
that children who are hyperactive may not have had the opportunities to
develop the neural pathways essential for self-regulation can help adults
understand that disciplining these youngsters will require a more com-
plex and compassionate process than traditional models (Bailey 2011).
Some other examples of behavior patterns related to insecure attachment
Children with attachment trauma may have great difficulty formu-
lating trusting relationships with their teachers and other caring adults.
Others may be overly friendly even toward complete strangers (a phe-
nomenon termed “indiscriminate friendliness”). They may defy authority,
or they may fear dependency and not ask for assistance. They frequently
have little impulse control and have difficulty dealing with new informa-
tion. When overwhelmed, they sometimes get up and silently walk out
of their classroom because they lack the coping skills required to deal
effectively with stress (Geddes 2006), such as the threatening prospect of
not knowing the answer. They may be extremely sensitive to perceived