Jools Page talks about the concept of ‘constructions of intimacy’ with Ann Clare.

Intimacy is one of the three core concepts in the Professional Love in Early Years Settings research.
The other two are Love and Care.

These concepts are applied in the Attachment Toolkit.



AC: Jools, I’ve heard you talk about, constructs of intimacy. Can you tell more about that please?

JP: constructions of intimacy, was one of the concepts that we were concerned about at the beginning of the project. Wondering what practitioners, think about when they think about those words such as ‘intimacy’. We know that obviously in their day to day work they have to carry out intimate care routines, for children. So this might be nappy changing, it might be feeding, it would be, taking them to the toilet, but it would also be issues such as being in close contact with them, hugging them, kissing them, cuddling them, and we wanted to better understand where practitioners felt comfortable with those ways of behaving and where they felt that they were concerned about was it too much or not enough and where were the best interests of the children. So for the purposes of the project we’ve been asking some very definite questions about how do they construct intimacy, in their relationships with young children and in the their understanding of how parents would feel comfortable with those practices as well, and how it safeguards children.

AC: Picking up on that word ‘safeguarding’, is that where their concerns when you talk about intimacy, when you talk about kissing and cuddling, is that where the concerns of the practitioners come from? Is it with regard to safeguarding?

JP: Often it is because, they might be concerned that in some way they may be behaving inappropriately, and therefore any, physical demonstration may be misconstrued as being inappropriate and, which would be obviously, could potentially be a safeguarding issue, which is, why we’ve asked them so many questions about how do they construct intimacy for the purposes of the project.

AC: And have you, sort of, have any idea of where some of those, their ideas are coming from? How they draw lines? I mean say for instance as far as kissing goes, is there any lines that you’re beginning to see revealed from that?

JP: I think practitioners have very clear ideas, about what is and what isn’t appropriate, and that’s coming out very strongly in the data. So, for example, they are clear that it is appropriate to hug children, particularly when they’re upset and they need comfort that it is a normal and a healthy part of their development and that the younger the child of course they’re more likely to need, very close, contact and close comfort. but always that this is at the heart of what children need and that it’s coming from the child and not from the adult.