Why term-time breaks can be lifelines for children with attachment needs

In England, headteachers cannot grant holiday requests during term time unless ” extraordinary circumstances.” Parents or carers who take their children out of school despite a refusal by a headteacher can be fined PS60. If they don’t pay in 21 days or within 28 days, the fine increases to PS120.

For some kids and teens, the issue is not just a cheap vacation and some sun in late summer. Some children and young people need more time to develop secure relationships with important adults in their lives. The quality time provided by a holiday can be invaluable.

Attachment theory

My study is based on the attachment theory, which states that adults who are important to children should be responsive and available. The child will know that they can turn to their caregiver for help if they feel distressed.

This consistent ” enough ” parenting will help children develop a solid base to explore the rest of the world.

When a child is securely attached, they actively monitor the location of their caregivers while exploring and only return if a dangerous situation arises. As children become more independent, they are able to spend longer periods away from their caregivers.

According to estimates, 40 percent of children are insecurely attached. Traumatic events can make it difficult for adults to be available and responsive to children and can lead them not to develop secure relationships.

Adverse Childhood Experiences include hospitalization, war, physical and sexual abuse (such as domestic violence), and neglect.

Insecure children respond to difficult situations with hypervigilance. They are always on the lookout for danger. For many children, school can be a challenging experience.

They must also navigate their relationships with unfamiliar adults and peers. Even when overwhelmed, they must keep their emotions under control.

As they grow older, their independence is required to increase. They must be able to make decisions and execute them alone. They must take responsibility for their actions. To know if a particular behavior is practical, social, and moral.

Many of these children need to learn dependency, while others are more concerned with their physical, psychological, and social needs. Then there are the academic expectations.

On holiday, families create important memories. pixelheadphoto digital-skillet/Shutterstock

Holidays give children the time they need to build these relationships.

Building bonds

According to research, family holidays can make children smarter and happier. Families can create shared and positive memories for their children to draw on in the future. It is important to take time to get away from the routine so that parents and caregivers can truly focus on their children.

Spending more time with parents and carers and establishing more secure relationships slowly can reduce anxiety in children and help improve their mental health.

Children with attachment issues may benefit from spending extended time with their birth parents or adoptive families or with foster carers. Holidays can be a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together without the pressures of work or school.

When children return to school, they will benefit from spending time building strong relationships. These stronger relationships can be used by school staff to calm anxious children. For example, a phone call or a note from their parents can reassure them.

Families can spend precious time together on holidays. A term break should always be about what’s best for the child and their family.

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