The Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting

In recent years, as our culture makes efforts to return back to “the natural,” a relatively new philosophy has taken hold among mothers with young children, with its focus heavily emphasizing the treatment of infants and toddlers. It is called “attachment parenting,” and it stems from attachment theory in the field of developmental psychology.

The fundamental outcome which attachment parenting strives to achieve is that a child’s “secure attachment”–or sufficiently strong bond–to parents, particularly the mother, will ultimately lead to healthy, fulfilling relationships in adulthood.

What follows is a series of principles which are meant to help parents create said secure attachment. Those principles are as follows (first lines taken from the official Attachment Parenting International website):

1. Prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. This is essentially self-explanatory. Get yourself educated about local healthcare facilities and the birthing environments available. If this is your first child, then familiarize yourself with newborn care. Read up. Ask questions. Set realistic expectations for yourself, your family, and your baby.

Many mothers who practice attachment parenting prefer to give birth naturally, even at home. If this sounds appealing to you, then investigate using a midwife or doula.

2. Feed with love and respect. Parents who follow attachment theory believe that breastfeeding is the ideal way for infants and even toddlers to receive primary nutrition. Children should be taught to make healthy food selections from the earliest stages of weaning. Parents should make it a priority to set the example for healthy behaviors.

3. Respond with sensitivity. Both parents should make efforts to react immediately to either a crying or a laughing child. Even infants have something to communicate, and each parent should take time to discern what that is and respond accordingly.

4. Use nurturing touch. Parents should use physical contact, particularly skin-to-skin, to communicate love, affection, and a sense of security. This is important as an ongoing practice, not isolated to infancy. Many parents, whether using “AP,” principles or not, have gotten into “babywearing.” AP parents believe that this creates a sense of security in the child while you are on the go.

5. Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally. Many AP parents practice co-sleeping; this means that the child sleeps in bed with his or her parents. Even when this is not done, it means that parents are continually attentive to the child’s needs while he or she is sleeping, including feeding during the night, checking to see the child is not too cold or too hot, and so on.

6. Provide consistent and loving care. Ideally, one parent will stay at home to continually nurture the attachment relationship. However, if this is not possible, then care should be provided by someone active in the family’s life who can give the child one-on-one attention, not a disinterested daycare provider.

7. Practice positive discipline. Efforts should be made by parents not to react to behavior but instead discover the root cause of behaviors. AP parents tend to believe that bad behaviors are a result of unmet needs. Rewarding good behaviors rather than punishing bad ones will create a more loving home environment.

8. Strive for balance in personal and family life. Remember to take time and recharge your batteries. Seek to handle stress in a positive way, and put your family first. If you get overwhelmed, you will not be able to respond sensitively to your children.

Attachment parenting as a whole philosophy isn’t for everyone, and the principles can sometimes be very inflexible. But there are no rules that say that you can’t take the parts that you like and apply them to your own parenting style.

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Kids’ Art: Anger Management That is Transformative and Fun

One form of anger management training takes into consideration a basic law of nature: energy can be changed from one form to another. Fossil fuels, for example, can be converted into electrical energy forms. Potential energy becomes kinetic energy when we move. The key is finding a fun and accessible way to make this conversion possible.

Helping your child move excess energy, stress or anger into something positive can easily be done through art. Children are naturally attuned to creative expression. Many simply need to be given the space, time and materials needed for creative transformation to take place.

There are several ways the caregiver or parent can help the child with this form of anger management.

1. Make choice the primary focus in this activity. Giving the reluctant child choice is the best way to elicit his or her cooperation. Get out as many tools and materials as possible such as craft dough, paper mache, paint, crayons, pencils, brushes, plastic spoons forks, potatoes, paper, strips of newsprint and Bristol board.

2. Allow the child room and space for his or her creative impulses. The yard in the back of the house or the deck that can be hosed clean are all perfect places for developing the urge to make something from your heart. The key is to give the child space – space to work with the materials, space to play and experiment with what is before him or her, space to think, space to let ideas gel,even space to take a break and start again. It is absolutely necessary that we abandon the one hour arts and craft session idea; no one can work creatively under timed circumstances.

3. Give praises and encouragement openly and often. You are not training your child for the Academy of the Arts. You are giving the energetic self a way to play off excess energy. Positive encouragement is the best way to keep this self preoccupied. Any creation, even if it is half made, is worthy of positive comment. The child is making something out of nothing and that in itself is noteworthy.

Positive comments encourage the child to make the connection between a specific activity and his emotional state. You want him or her to make this connection a lifelong affair.

4. Play soft music in the background; it can be soft classical music or cheerful children’s songs. Studies have confirmed that music does have a powerful effect on our emotions. Researchers have discovered that emotions aroused by joyful music can produce healthy effects on blood vessel functions. The sense of joy aroused in listeners actually causes the blood vessels to dilate or expand, allowing for greater oxygenation in the body.

5. Display your child’s art. Make your house into an art gallery. There is nothing that bolsters self esteem more than seeing one’s creations displayed and appreciated. I have my grandkids’ art works all over my fridge and all over the walls going up the stairs and down the stairs in my house. I place them in sturdy frames so that my house is literally an art gallery for their creations.

6. If you can, create with the kids. I love doing my own art pieces with the children. Being there adds a whole new dimension to the experience. I am not merely supervising them, but actively participating in their play. It is not only fun for me (makes me 10 years younger); it is absolutely critical for my own development as an artist. They give me great suggestions. Kids are the best art critics when they are given the chance.

Anger management does not need to be a form of heavy duty training. Anger management can be fun, focused and transforming through art.

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I Fall, You Fall – We all Fall Down!

We all know the story about Adam and Eve and how God told them they could eat anything they wanted, except they could not eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3: 6 says, When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom; she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he at it.”

It is interesting how we rationalize all the reasons why we shouldn’t listen to God! We are just like Eve, when we tell ourselves things like, “well, this sure looks like fun.” Or we say, “I can’t take my eyes off it.” Or we justify and tell ourselves how “I deserve it…”

And of course, after we do our sin, we try to blame someone else – anyone else. Even God. We say things like, “If God didn’t want me to sin, why did he put that temptation in front of me?”

Adam did the same thing as he started out by blaming God. Take a close look at Genesis 3:11-12 where Adam says to God, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

We give everyone and anyone blame – except ourselves. So here we are in the very first book of the Bible, just after God created this lovely paradise for us to live in, and we’ve already made decisions to eat the forbidden fruit, followed by hiding from our sin, followed by blaming God, blaming each other, and finally blaming the devil.

What a tragedy!

This tragic story in the Bible is almost the opposite of modern autobiographies. Most autobiographies are filled with conquest, overcoming the odds and victories. It’s often the same way whenever we talk about ourselves. We like to put our best foot forward and make ourselves look good.

But unlike the victorious autobiographies, or our own stories of self importance, the Bible doesn’t try to make people into heroes. Instead the Bible is filled with stories about individual people and nations who constantly struggled with their faith and sinful nature. It is filled with stories about prodigal sons and lost sheep stories about doubters and people who constantly made mistakes.

Clearly, if someone was trying to write a book about “heroes” who never fell down and lived perfect lives, it is tough to find them in the Bible.

Yes, the Bible tells the truth. It says that all of us are fallen people who sin and fall short. From the very first couple who ate the forbidden fruit, we continually fall down.

• Look at the people of Israel who were rescued by Moses out of the slavery of Egypt. Remember how they walked through the Red Sea…. Yet they so quickly forgot what God had done for them.
• King David was a man who committed adultery, then murder and then denied the whole thing.
• Peter disowned Jesus.
• Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.
• Paul himself said in Romans 7:17 “I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.”

I fall down. And so do you. We all fall down, but God still loves you, even when you fall. There is something we can learn from the characters in the bible – that God loves you all the time right where you are at and He will help you to receive and understand this all so important truth.

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