The development of attachment

Photo of woman with baby

Schaffer and Emerson’s research into attachment enabled them to construct an explanation of how attachment develops.

Starter: In explaining the behaviour seen at each stage of attachment a number of key terms are used which students need to be aware of.  Before beginning the main activity students need to familiarise themselves with the following vocabulary and specialist terminology:

Vocabulary – indiscriminate

Vocabulary – discriminate

Vocabulary – social stimuli

Specialist terminology – stranger anxiety

Specialist terminology – separation anxiety

Specialist terminology – primary attachment figure

Specialist terminology – multiple attachments

This could be set as a team challenge to define each word then, on offering the correct definition, teams score themselves on how close their definition was to the actual definition. For example, Heat rating: Blue (cold/way off) through to red (hot/close) or traffic lights: Red (incorrect), amber (close) or green (correct definition).

Main: Split the class into four groups (or eight if you have a large class) and assign each group one stage  – referring to each stage by name but not number of the stage or age of the child at that stage, e.g. indiscriminate attachment, beginning of attachment, discriminate and multiple.

As a group students have to represent the information provided about the specific stage in pictures only (you could be nice and allow them a word limit, for example, 5 words, 4 numbers and 3 symbols).

Once each group has represented their stage as a visual image the class comes together to explain their pictures to each other. The task is to then decide on the order in which the stages occur. If you have eight groups then form two ‘super groups’ and the first team to identify the correct order are the winners.

Plenary: Provide each group with a set of questions relating to the stages of attachment. These could be taken from exam papers or textbooks. Working together students answer the questions and hand them in to be marked. Once marked simply photocopy the required amount so every member of the group has their own copy of the test, marks awarded and any feedback.