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Theoretical Framework



As humans attachment is our primary need. In the context of a safe and caring relationship we can be assured that our needs, both physical and emotional will be met. This is the context in which optimal growth and development happen.

The immature child is meant to depend on the mature adult so that the adult can provide nurturing and guidance. An adult must both love a child and also be willing to guide the child, which at times may mean having the child do something or not do something because it is in their best interest. The guidance is always given in a caring manner, even if it must be firm. This is essential, because a dependent child must have the confidence that the adult is able to handle all the aspects of their care. 

For some children, the state of dependence is a vulnerable one and they find it hard to lean on the adult. This can manifest itself in a variety of challenging behaviours that are an attempt to manage a vulnerability too much to bear. The adults who care for these children must see the behaviours as arising from vulnerability and respond in a way that will lower the child’s defenses and soften their heart, so that they can once again depend. When they can depend, then they can rest and grow.

The interventions suggested by CEBM are all designed to help adults and children fall into this “right relationship”. 

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WEBINAR: Why Relationship Matters

Deborah MacNamara

The desire for relationship and connection is the greatest need humans have. This presentation will focus on the importance of adult relationships for children and/or teens, how they develop, and can be protected in light of disciplinary issues. The importance of human relationships in the maturation process will be discussed as well as the role of shyness in protecting attachments.

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WEBINAR: Attachment Roots: Developing the Capacity to Hold On When Apart

Dr Gordon Neufled

In this webinar, Dr. Gordon Neufeld discusses the way children's capacity for relationship is meant to develop and why this development is so necessary. Each phase of attachment adds a new way to hold on to their parents or other people they are attached to when separated.

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WEBINAR: The importance of relationship in a time that requires adaptation

Eva de Gosztonyi

Covid19 has changed our world dramatically and we are all working hard at coping with this new reality, particularly those of us who are parents and/or educators. This session will focus on how we can remain the strong attachment figures our children need as we lead them along this uncharted path. Even in these uncertain times, we can provide the conditions that will help our children to become adaptative and resilient.

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EDITORIAL: Attachment Hunger

Pamela Whyte

Dr. Neufeld frequently compares our need for food with our need for relationship; the more I think about this the more it makes sense. It is easy for us to understand the importance of food for the healthy development of our children; we know they need sleep and safe shelter in order to grow. It is harder for us to grasp the vital importance of right relationship in determining the well being, and even the behaviour of our children.


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The Five Things Master Teachers Know and Do

Deborah MacNamara

What is the difference between a great teacher and a master teacher? After years of hiring and working with teachers, along with decades of experience in the classroom, I am convinced there are a few tangible things that set these groups apart. Here are the five things I have learned from being a teacher and watching master teachers in action.


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The Two Essential Invitations

Lisa Weiner

Dr. Neufeld says that we need to offer our children two invitations. The first is the unconditional invitation to exist in our presence and the second is the invitation to become fully who they are. This same sentiment is sometimes represented imagistically: we are helping them grow both  roots and wings. 


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The Dance of Relationships and Why They Matter

Deborah MacNamara

Life is not possible without attachment. We all begin as cells that embed themselves in our biological mother’s womb, with her body providing a warm and safe place for them to multiply and divide. The cellular transformation is breathtaking and provides a beautiful window to watch life unfold through connection. As the umbilical cord emerges in early development, it tethers mother and child to each other. 


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Creating a Conscious Invitation into Relationship

Hannah Beach

There is a lot of discussion about the importance of relationship in education – for good reason! Building relationships with our students is a vital part of creating emotionally safe learning communities. I am so grateful to Dr. Gordon Neufeld for developing an accessible and intuitive language around priming and preserving relationships. He speaks about “collecting, bridging, and match-making” as being the three basic attachment rituals.


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The Art of Bridging: How it can keep relationship alive even while disciplining

Hannah Beach

In my last blog about collecting, I spoke about how creating a conscious invitation into relationship is a vital part of creating emotionally safe learning communities. It is relationship that helps children to feel safe with us. It is through relationship that their hearts can soften, that they may want to follow our lead, and truly feel like who they are as unique and individual people, matters.


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Matchmaking to Build Community for our Students

Hannah Beach

In my past two blogs, I have shared about the attachment rituals of collecting (creating a conscious invitation into relationship) and bridging (keeping relationship alive even while disciplining). This blog is about the art of matchmaking and how we can use it to grow a child’s community. Dr. Gordon Neufeld speaks about collecting, bridging and matchmaking as the three basic attachment rituals for priming and preserving relationships.


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Why Kids Don’t Need Attention but an Invitation for Relationship

Deborah MacNamara

A parent asked me whether I thought her child just needed more attention from her? Her daughter was anxious, restless, easily frustrated, and prone to resistance. The mother questioned whether a lack of attention was at the root of the issue? What this mother knew was that she needed to take the lead in finding a way out of the impasse with her daughter. I suggested a different question might be more helping in providing insight. Instead of focusing on the attention she gave her daughter I wondered if she could consider whether her daughter was receptive to a relationship with her and if not, how this could be gained or strengthened?


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Three Irreducible Needs That All Kids Need to Thrive

Deborah MacNamara

Raffi Cavoukian, a children’s singer, songwriter, and child advocate, wrote a song titled – All I really need – which beautifully captures from a child’s perspective their most essential needs. Raffi sings, “All I really need is a song in my heart, food in my belly, and love in my family.”  


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Why Classrooms need Rituals of Togetherness

Hannah Beach

Most of us already recognize the benefits of creating a classroom which feels enjoyable. We understand that humans flourish when we feel liked, enjoyed by others, and comfortable in our environment. In knowing this, we might show up to our classrooms every morning, full of warmth and ideas for creating a connected learning community.

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Answering a Child’s Hunger for Connection: Why Relationships Matter

Deborah MacNamara

As a new parent I thought I just needed to love my child enough and attachment would take care of itself. I soon realized it wasn’t this simple. I started wondering how I could cultivate and protect my relationship at every turn – from sleep issues to temper tantrums? As I waded through the parenting and professional literature on attachment over a decade ago I was dismayed – while there was agreement as to its importance, there was a lack of depth in explaining it’s overall purpose, how to cultivate it, and how it played a role in the development of a child. It was ironic to me that attachment could be so detached from any roots making sense of it.


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Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Harvard University

An “environment of relationships” is crucial for the development of a child’s brain architecture, which lays the foundation for later outcomes such as academic performance, mental health, and interpersonal skills. However, many of our nation’s policies fail to consider the importance of adult-child relationships for child well-being.

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