All parents want to form a close emotional bond with their children and it begins the moment
those children are born. But, parents approach this goal in many different ways because they
need a style that is consistent with their views and values. Some people treat their children as
tiny adults who can be approached rationally. Other parents turn to discipline to socialize unruly
kids. And still others let their children run the show.
As soon as you find out you are going to be a parent, you begin researching and trying to gain
enough knowledge so that you feel like you have some level of control. But, the amount of
parenting advice is overwhelming. How are you supposed to choose a method? You might try
some trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try something or to change your approach if the previous
one doesn’t feel like a good fit for your family.
One popular parenting approach is attachment parenting, which focuses on the nurturing link
parents create with their children. Proponents argue that this connection is the best way to raise
children who are empathetic, secure, and independent. As they see it, a trusting, safe attachment
to parents during childhood is the foundation for independence and secure relationships as adults.
According to Attachment Parenting International—a global educational association for this
parenting approach—there are eight principles of attachment parenting. Parents are encouraged
to interpret these principles and put them into action as they choose.
Prepare Physically and Emotionally for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
By researching all of the options and learning about stages of development, parents can set
realistic expectations and remain adaptable in their responses to these situations.
Feed Your Child with Love and Respect
Ideally, babies should be breastfed, but “bottle nursing” can also help begin a secure attachment.
Infants and children will give feeding cues that parents should respond to, encouraging their
children to eat when they are hungry and stop when they feel full. Also, parents should model
healthy eating behavior and healthy food choices.
Respond to Your Child with Sensitivity
Parents need to pay attention to what their children are communicating and answer appropriately
and consistently. Babies can’t calm themselves, so they need parents to help them regulate their
Use a Nurturing Touch
Babies need affection, physical contact, stimulation, security, and movement. These are all
satisfied through touch, and skin-to- skin contact is recommended. Older children need hugs,
physical play, and snuggling.
Ensure Your Child Sleeps Safely, Both Emotionally and Physically
Sleep training routines are detrimental to children, so parents are encouraged to co-sleep with
their children. This allows parents to respond to their children’s needs and to help soothe them
when their emotions become intense.
Provide Your Child with Loving and Consistent Care
Children need the physical presence of a caregiver who is loving, consistent, and responsive. If
parents must be absent, they should choose another caregiver to help strengthen attachment. To
remain present, parents should have flexible schedules and help to diminish fear and stress
during small separations.
Practice Positive Discipline with Your Child
A child should develop a conscience that is led by his or her own inner discipline and empathy
for others. Instead of reacting to a child’s actions, parents need to discover what caused them.
Parents and children work together to create a solution that allows everyone’s dignity to remain
Endeavor for Balance in Your Family and Personal Life
Parents can best be responsive when they are stable. They need to meet the needs of their family
without compromising their own wellbeing. Ways of doing this include putting people before
things, creating a support system, being willing to say “no,” and setting realistic goals.
Obviously, there will be times when circumstances don’t allow parents to adhere to the
attachment principles, like in stressful situations resulting from things like a death or an opiate
addiction in the family. But, they can all be modified to meet the needs of the individual family.
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