There is an increased international interest in how close attachment interactions with infants and toddlers are realised and interpreted by early years professionals. It is troubling for those who work in early years settings with infants and toddlers to know how best to demonstrate healthy loving attachment behaviours as an expectation of their professional caregiving role when ‘standing in for parents’. This paper reports the interview findings from a mixed methods study which examined practitioners’ views on love, care and intimacy within the English early years policy context. It draws on Attachment Theory and Relational Ethics to analyse the narratives of practice drawn from eight in-depth interviews with infant toddler professionals to reveal the extent of their challenge as well as their beliefs about attachment and professional love. The responses highlighted the level of concern about the place of love and intimacy in non-familial pedagogical relationships with young children, against the backdrop of child protection and safeguarding following the global concern about infant abuse. The study suggests that there is a need to embrace an infant toddler pedagogy to include the lens and the language of attachment and professional love and to provide early years professionals with training and guidance on how to safely interpret these theories into their everyday practice.
Bibliographical noteJools Page, Re-framing infant toddler pedagogy through a lens of professional love: exploring narratives of professional practice in early childhood settings in England, Contemporary Issues In Early Childhood. 2017 Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.