Recent trends in research on teacher-child relationships

Terri J. Sabol, Robert C. Pianta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

490 Scopus citations


Theoretical and empirical work on relationships between teachers and children relies on developmental systems theory as the foundational conceptual model, drawing heavily from basic work in attachment as well as research on social development. Recently, the focus on relational processes in effort to support children's development in the classroom has proliferated, with multiple disciplines and fields engaging in research on teacher-child relationship quality to understand and improve the experiences and learning of students. This paper updates the conceptual framework and continues the necessary integration between disciplines by exploring three areas of research: (1) concordance between children's relationships with teachers and parents; (2) the moderating role of teacher-child relationships for the development of at-risk children; and (3) training teachers from a relational perspective. Each of the three areas of research on teacher-child relationships is examined in light of recent findings and considers implications for understanding the nature and impact of relationships between teachers and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-231
Number of pages19
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012


  • at-risk children
  • development
  • parent-child relationships
  • teacher-child relationships
  • training teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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