Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Attachment Parenting

"Attachment parenting" is a term coined by pediatrician William Sears. It is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory. Parents who are sensitive to their children's needs, empathic, and emotionally available, help children form secure attachments. Secure attachments promote healthy social and emotional growth and well being.

Parents want their children to have positive relationships, feel confident, be able to tolerate disappointment, be responsible and accountable, be kind, and get along in the world. To foster this, it is important for parents to remember these basic things:

1) Unconditional positive regard helps instill a sense of trust and self-confidence in children. Accept the child for who he/she is and support his/her strengths and interests. Regularly remind the child of his/her importance, value and worth by showing interest in what the child is doing.

2) Patience and calm helps children manage their emotions, which, in turn, promotes positive behaviors and relationships. Providing consistency, structure, boundaries, and attention helps children feel safe and loved and allows them to better control their behaviors and build healthy relationships.

3) Sharing feelings provides a model for self-reflection. Parents who can openly reflect on their feelings and help put feelings into words for their children tend to have children who learn to do the same.

4) Attempting to understand the meaning behind children's behavior can help parents better connect with and support their children's growth and development. Children want to be good. Misbehavior is a sign that the child is struggling and likely cannot express what is bothering him/her in words. The behavior is speaking for the child. Understanding the meaning behind the behavior helps the parent connect with the child, helps the child feel validated, further enhances attachment, and improves behavior.

These are just a few good parenting skills that can help parents stay connected to their children and promote positive attachments.

For more on this topic, check out What is Connective Parenting.