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Children’s Social and Emotional Well-being

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Words: 1417 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 1417|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Antithesis:
  2. Reflection:
  3. References

“When you’re learning to be a teacher, you think it’s just about lesson plans, curriculum, and seating charts. I was blinded by the emotional aspect of teaching – I didn’t know how to handle it” (Minero, 2017). This is referred to as vicarious trauma that occurs in helping professionals when they interact with individuals who have experienced trauma. Educators are very partial to vicarious trauma. This, in turn, affects their well being which can have adverse effects on their attachments with children and families. Attachment is the foundation of social-emotional well-being and the quality of teacher-student relationships is also linked directly to a child’s social-emotional well-being. This essay will examine how teacher burnout, withdrawal from friends/family, and feeling of lack of safety and trust compromises the bonds and attachments with children whom the teachers care for. 

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To begin with, teacher burnout is a serious problem in school settings and has an enormous effect on the teacher-student relationship. When vicarious trauma affects the teacher, they can feel emotionally exhausted which in turn affects on the conversations they have with their students. According to Bergin and Bergin (2009), some factors that lead to secure attachment include  “high-quality communication that is open, direct, coherent, and fluent, as well as warm and positive statements”(p.143). However, when a teacher is emotionally exhausted due to the symptoms of vicarious trauma, it leads to feeling inexplicably irritable, angry, or numb. That means that they will have a lack of confidence and depowered conversation with the students. As a result, teachers will not be able to form secure attachments with the children that they care for. Furthermore, as the effects of vicarious trauma increase, teacher burnout also increases. In turn, involvement in classroom activities and thoughtfulness of classroom preparation decreases, causing student criticism to increase. In a study done by Evers, Tomic, and Brouwers (2004), they reported that teachers’ burnout symptoms are recognized by their students. This results in reduced student motivation, changed perception of the teacher and changed behaviour in the classroom. Most importantly, it results in diminished engagement with the teacher and as a result, there is a lack of teacher-student bond and attachment (Shen et., 2015).

Furthermore, withdrawal from friends and family is another symptom of vicarious trauma that can compromise a teacher’s bond and attachment with the children. When teachers start to feel guilty and hopeless about not doing enough, they tend to withdraw themselves from friends and family. Some coping responses to this symptom include resisting attachment, leaving or considering leaving their jobs, and becoming less motivated. These coping responses can impact the students who have formed a strong attachment with their teacher. In a recent study, five of the six teachers interviewed reported some degree of purposefully resisting attachment as a coping mechanism. This response could be detrimental to the children in their care, as attachment facilitates emotional and cognitive growth (Lucas, 2007). In another study done by Ainsworth and her colleagues called the ‘Strange Situation’, infants are subjected to situations such as encountering a strange adult in an unfamiliar room. The infants who are securely attached to a caring figure in their lives tend to show signs of distress when the caregiver leaves. Similarly, if a teacher decides to quit her job as a coping mechanism to the vicarious trauma she faces, the students who are securely attached to the teacher will also undergo signs of distress, which can continue to affect them in their later life (Lamb, 1980).

Lastly, feeling of lack of safety and trust is another symptom of vicarious trauma that can compromise a teacher’s bond and attachment with their children. Teachers who are burnt out may not have the energy to provide the care that the students need, or they may feel overwhelmed that it comprises their ability to assess the child’s needs. This can affect the teacher’s relationship with the student and may, in turn, affect the student’s ability to trust and form an effective relationship with other professionals. Teachers who no longer feel safe and develop distrust in others may have a harder time assisting students in developing trust in caregivers (Hernandez-Wolfe et al., 2015). According to Brunzell, Stokes, and Waters (2019), “Attachment as a regulatory strategy helped deescalate students in the safety of a trusted relationship while assisting their body to build self-regulation in times of emotional arousal” (p.607). When a child does not have the opportunity to cope with the traumatic experience with a trusted adult, it affects he child’s ability to master developmental tasks at the time of the trauma and in later years. When an educator is feeling a lack of safety and trust, he/she cannot meet the child’s needs and in result will compromise the trusted adult-child relationship that is needed for nourishment and growth. 

In conclusion, vicarious trauma affects a teacher’s brain the same way it affects their student’s brains. This can then result in physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms such as teacher burnout, withdrawal from friends/family, and lack of safety and trust. These symptoms compromise the bonds and attachments that teachers have with their students. Teacher burnout can result in depowered conversations and diminished engagements with the children compromising the attachment between the teacher and student. Withdrawal from friends and family can result in quitting jobs as a coping mechanism which could be a detriment to the children in their care that have formed secure bonds and attachment with the teacher. Lastly, lack of safety and trust results in teachers having a hard time assisting their students to trust caregivers as well as not being able to meet their needs and as a result, compromising the trusted teacher-student bond.

Antithesis:

This essay examines how specific calamities such as teacher burnout, withdrawal from friends/family and feeling of lack of safety and trust compromise the bonds and attachments with children whom the teachers care for. However, considerable evidence exists to show that it is the satisfaction of dependency needs that is the issue in attachment, not to whom the child is attached to. This means that a teacher’s vicarious trauma or the symptoms of vicarious trauma might not compromise a teacher-student attachment because the child can still satisfy his dependency needs through other means. Children can form several attachments that satisfy their dependency needs (Wilson & Wilson, 2015).

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Reflection:

I have decided to invest my time into this topic for many reasons. During my first-year placement, I became attached to the children at my center and constantly found myself thinking about them during the week. When I was researching a topic for my essay, I came across the term ‘vicarious trauma’ and when I realized that I have gone through something similar, I instantly knew this was the topic I wanted to learn more about. I also decided to invest time in this topic because as a future educator, vicarious trauma is an issue that I will most probably face in my career. My research has helped me become aware of many helpful tips on ways to recognize that you are experiencing vicarious trauma and tips on how to deal with vicarious trauma.  Lastly, I decided to examine how specific calamities that result from vicarious trauma can compromise the bonds and attachment with the children because we have learned that attachment is the foundation of social-emotional well being, so us educators must be aware of how our actions, words, and behaviour will affect the students.

References

  1. Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2009). Attachment in the classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 21(2), 141-170. doi:10.1007/s10648-009-9104-0
  2. Brunzell, T., Stokes, H. & Waters, L. School Mental Health (2019) 11: 600. https://doi:org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/10.1007/s12310-018-09308-8
  3. Evers, W. J., Tomic, W., & Brouwers, A. (2004). Burnout among teachers: Students’ and teachers’ perceptions compared. School Psychology International, 5, 131– 148. doi:10.1177/0143034304043670
  4. Hernandez-Wolfe, P., Killian, K., Engstrom, D., & Gangsei, D. (2015). Vicarious resilience, vicarious trauma, and awareness of equity in trauma work. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 55(2), 153-172. doi:10.1177/0022167814534322
  5. Lamb, M. E. (1980). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. mary D. salter ainsworth, mary C. blehar, everett waters, and sally wall. hillsdale, N.J., erlbaum, 1978[distributor, halsted(wiley), new york]. xviii, 392 pages, $24.95. Infant Mental Health Journal, 1(1), 68-70. doi:10.1002/1097-0355(198021)1:13.0.CO;2-3
  6. Lucas, L. (2007). The pain of Attachment—“You have to put a little wedge in there” how vicarious trauma affects Child/Teacher attachment. Childhood Education, 84(2), 85-91. doi:10.1080/00094056.2008.10522979
  7. Minero, E. (2017, October 4). When Students Are Traumatized, Teachers Are Too. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/when-students-are-traumatized-teachers-are-too.
  8. Shen, B., Mccaughtry, N., Martin, J., Garn, A., Kulik, N., & Fahlman, M. (2015). The relationship between teacher burnout and student motivation. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 519–532. doi: 10.1111/bjep.12089
  9. Wilson, R. L., & Wilson, R. (2015). Understanding Emotional Development: Providing Insight Into Human Lives. Routledge.
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Children’s Social and Emotional Well-Being. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/childrens-social-and-emotional-well-being/
“Children’s Social and Emotional Well-Being.” GradesFixer, 31 Jan. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/childrens-social-and-emotional-well-being/
Children’s Social and Emotional Well-Being. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/childrens-social-and-emotional-well-being/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Children’s Social and Emotional Well-Being [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jan 31 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/childrens-social-and-emotional-well-being/
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