When you hear the words attachment parenting, what comes to mind? Children that are completely spoiled, undisciplined, and wild? Children that are self-confident, nurtured, and content?
Which of the two pictures you get in your mind may depend a lot on what you have been exposed to. Just like any other lifestyle, there are all kinds of parents and all kinds of ways to practice attachment parenting, both good and bad.
So, what is attachment parenting, really?
There are eight principles involved in this philosophy.
It is important to begin to bond with your baby before she is born. Consider whether or not you may have any negative feelings or fears about pregnancy, birth, or parenting. If there are any negative emotions involved, you will want to deal with them as soon as possible â€“ even seeking counseling if necessary.
Breastfeeding and Demand Feeding
Attachment parenting seeks to create a strong feeling of security within the child. Breastfeeding and feeding on demand reassures your baby that you are going to take care of her. If you canâ€™t breastfeed for some reason, be sure to be attentive to her need for comfort and security â€“ even when she isnâ€™t hungry. Donâ€™t let your baby â€œcry it outâ€.
Attachment parenting seeks to understand why a child is crying or having a tantrum and what they are trying to communicate, rather than just disciplining the behavior.
For example, once when my oldest daughter was a toddler and not talking very much, I had to take her with me to a funeral. I dressed her in a new dress; one that she hadnâ€™t worn before. In the car she was fussy and wiggly, and it didnâ€™t get better.
I took her out in the foyer to try to calm her down and as I rubbed her back a pin stuck in my finger. There were a couple of straight pines I had missed in the dress. Once these were removed she was fine.
Lots of Skin on Skin Contact
Babies need a lot of nurturing touch. Gentle massage after a bath, wearing your baby in a sling, and rocking are all good ways to provide your child with the contact she needs.
Co-sleeping can mean having the baby sleep in bed with you, but not all parents are comfortable with that. Just having the baby in the same room will allow you to feed and soothe her as she needs it and reassure her that you are close by.
If you do practice co-sleeping, you can get a crib with an open side that fits against your bed. This helps guard against any potential problems.
Be There for Her
Proponents of attachment parenting feel that the mom should be available to the baby nearly all the time; even putting off going back to work until the baby is three or so if at all possible. While date night with your husband is important, she should accompany you shopping and on errands whenever possible.
Attachment parenting does not mean allowing your child to do whatever she wants but it does advise positive discipline; using distraction and redirection to help children when they are having tantrums or misbehaving.
It is important to decide whether the behavior is a stage of growth common to all children, or whether the behavior stems from some other issue.
It is important to model positive behavior to your child. Keep your life in balance, get plenty of rest, eat well, and take time to relax so that you are not stressed and irritable.
How these principles are implemented is different for every family. It is not a set of rules that you have to follow, but guidelines to help you hone your parenting skills and raise confident, well adjusted children.
photo credit: janetmck