Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Attachment disorder in children, Mentally ill children-Education, Early childhood educators


The following thesis investigates the work done by early childhood educators for attachment-impaired children in the classroom setting. The experiences shared by the educators in this open study may guide and inspire other helping professionals as they develop strategies for working with children for whom it is difficult to build relationships. This study employed open-ended interview questions to gather narrative data from twelve experts who work or have worked in preschool programs. Through direct interviews with the relevant professionals this study examined their efforts to service this challenging population. The overarching request made of participants was to "describe [a] case of a child presenting attachment limitations with whom it was particularly difficult to build a relationship." Participants were asked to maintain confidentiality in their answers. The research found that the teachers were significantly affected by their experiences. Those who had been in the field longer demonstrated a calmness that was useful when working with this population. Unique and remarkable techniques were utilized to try to engage the children and when the methods were actively reparative in approach the child more often responded positively and developed a more secure attachment. The participants also described learning how important it is for relationship-building to be a priority in the classroom. Lastly it is clear that educators and clinicians must continue to seek out support in one another's professional experiences.




iii, 73 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 67-70)