Attachment Theory

The Thrive Approach is underpinned by attachment theory to help understand what a child or young person’s behaviour is communicating.

Learn more below.



How does it work?

Attachment theories focus on the deep emotional bond that connects one individual to another across time and space.

Why is it important?

The Thrive Approach uses evidence from attachment theory research to highlight the importance of building trusting relationships between adults and children/young people that can evolve as the child develops in a way that supports the child’s optimal social and emotional development.



Attachment theory helps to explain the relationship between a child/young person and their primary caregiver(s).

The nature of this relationship directly influences how the child/young person develops throughout the course of their lifetime, both physically and mentally. As such, this relationship will affect the child/young person’s capacity to make friends, to explore the world around them and to engage with learning.

Thrive uses attachment theory to help us understand a child/young person’s behaviour and what this tells us about their social and emotional development. By understanding what a child/young person’s behaviour is communicating about their unmet social and emotional needs, those working with the child/young person are then in a position to make a positive difference to their life. However, if adults don’t recognise what is behind a child/young person’s behaviour, they will find it difficult to meet the child/young person’s needs. The result for the child/young person can be social disengagement, underachievement in education, exclusion and potential issues in adult life.

The Thrive Approach draws on attachment theory to explore how healthy attachment relationships can be formed and how these can be used to achieve better outcomes for children and young people. Research tells us that our brains prioritise attachment security over exploration, suggesting that a safe relationship is necessary before a child or young person will be ready to engage with learning.

The Thrive Approach helps adults to develop empathy and compassion for those in their care, including through understanding the potential origins of their behaviour. As an attachment-aware approach, Thrive shows how behaviour can be positively improved, while giving children and young people a sense of security and enabling them to build emotional resilience. Ultimately, this can lead to children and young people leading fuller, healthier lives and developing the capacity to thrive.

Key Information
  • Attachment theory helps us understand the importance of the relationship between the child or young person and the adult.
  • The Thrive Approach helps adults build safe and supportive relationships so that children and young people are open to learning.
  • Thrive uses attachment theory to understand children and young people's diverse, confusing and sometimes distressing behaviour.
  • Thrive's relational stance enables adults to help children and young people to learn to trust, building their resilience and capacity to regulate their emotions.
  • Building trusting relationships offers adults supporting children and young people the very positive reality of making a difference to young people's futures.



Case studies

While it is important to understand the model behind The Thrive Approach, what really matters is the impact that it can have in practice for the development of an individual child or young person.

View case studies

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If you would like to discuss more about Thrive and what opportunities are currently available in your area, please click the link below or call the Thrive team direct on 01392 797555.

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