Guest Author - Megan Faulkner
The subject of parenting has gained much attention in recent decades. The number of different parenting books and television shows offer parents a wide variety of techniques for ensuring that their child is the happiest on the block. However, with so much advice being given to parents, how can one know which techniques to use with their children? Researchers are beginning to provide the answer for those parents, and it takes the form of attachment parenting.
Attachment Parenting is an approach that has gained a lot of attention lately, however, it is unlike many of the other approaches in that it was developed from evidence-based research on human attachments and brain development. Based on attachment theory, this approach seeks to encourage the development of a secure attachment between children and their parents or primary caretakers. This is especially important in light of new research that indicates that secure attachment is tied to the positive development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills for children. According to the research, when parents spend time interacting with their children, they are not only learning more about each child as an individual, but they are also helping to form their developing brains. With this new awareness, it is no wonder that attachment parenting has been gaining the attention of many parents and caregivers.
In order to help parents establish a secure attachment relationship with their children, there are several principles that are considered the basics of attachment parenting. These principles are not to be taken as end-all, be-all practices for parents. Instead, parents are encouraged to try things out and determine what ultimately works best for their child and their family, and not to worry about checking parenting behaviors off of some list. All families are different and will have different needs. The most important thing that parents can do is to be consciously and consistently making decisions about how to best parent their own children, rather than simply following the advice of others who may not know the child as an individual.
Often as soon as a woman discovers she is pregnant people begin offering her pregnancy and parenting advice. It may come in the form of a helpful mother in the community or a popular mothering book given by a pediatrician. In any form, it is important for a new mother to be aware that there is no “right” way to be pregnant, to give birth, or to care for their child. There are various ways to produce happy and healthy children and while it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all of these decisions, it is important that some thought be put into what will work best for the family.
Attachment parenting suggests many practices during the early years of a child’s life that will encourage a secure attachment to form between the parent and the child. These practices include breastfeeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping. There is an emphasis on responding to the child’s needs with empathy and using positive discipline, versus spanking or time outs.
Many of the principles of attachment parenting require a great deal of time on the part of the parents; however, it is possible that all the time and effort of these parents will pay off in the form of happy, healthy, securely attached children, which we now know leads to positive outcomes in terms of their social, emotional, and cognitive abilities. That seems like a pretty worth-while investment if you ask me.