Emotionally available adult

What is an emotionally available adult (EAA)?

Being an EAA means that you are a secure base for a child in school or setting, you will have an understanding that behaviour is communicating an emotion.  You will be calm, consistent and warm, being curious, a good listener and not making assumptions of the children that you are working with.

You will work alongside a child to support them in developing different ways of thinking or behaving, modelling what it is to be in a positive relationship, truly connecting with the child making them feel like they belong and are valued.

We can protect children by being Emotionally Available Adults (EAA), interrupting the trajectory from childhood adversities just through our responses to children. Being curious about challenging behaviour and learning difficulties.  Understanding the impact that adversity can have on long term mental, physical and social ill-health.

One emotionally available adult can form secure attachments and make all the difference, and for many children that adult will be someone at school, or from a community organisation.

YOU can be that EAA. The power of working as a close team, with the child and parent to protect them.

Ian Wight talks poignantly about his EAA and the impact that he had on his life https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-51516452

We are hard wired to be in relationships with others, scientists have known this for years.  The majority of us have been tested during lockdown, where our capacity to connect has been reduced, or in some cases stopped altogether.

We can provide positive relational experiences with children and change their brains. Positive relational experiences don’t need to be happy, happy experiences but are about meeting the child where they are emotionally.  This may be in happiness, but could be meeting them in their pain.

“The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways” Russel Barkley. 

And for this reason it is important that within our organisations, we ourselves are supported; for no-one can pour from an empty cup!  It is a statutory requirement that all professionals working within the EYFS receive supervision, and this is one opportunity to talk about the children and families that you are working with.   Guidance for leaders on supervision can be found here. https://www.bristolearlyyears.org.uk/professional-networks-and-leadership/supervision

Early Learning Contacts

Nicola Theobald, Lead for Early Years Partnerships
Kate Hubble, Early Years Improvement Officer
Kate Irvine, Early Years Improvement Officer, Early Years Consultant
Beth Osborne, Early Years Consultant
Ali Carrington, Early Years Consultant