Attachmentparenting.org defines attachment parenting as: “The practice of nurturing parenting methods that create strong emotional bonds, also known as secure attachment, between children and their parent(s). This style of parenting encourages responsiveness to children’s emotional needs, enabling children to develop trust that their needs will be met. As a result, this strong attachment helps children develop the capacity for secure, empathetic, peaceful, and enduring relationships that follow them into adulthood. “
Of course, all parents have to find what works for them, and no one parent is going to follow any one way of thinking 100%, but at the core of it, AP is focused on creating a strong bond between parent and child, so that regardless of each parent’s discipline techniques or what they allow or don’t allow, the children, first and foremost know that the discipline is because they are loved, and it is our God given responsibility as their parents to direct them and guide them into adulthood.
Attachment parenting is NOT lazy parenting. I know too many parents that don’t tell their children no, who will give their whiny toddler the toy they are screaming for to avoid the fit, who ignore the usage of bad words, disrespect, and over-all undesirable behavior under the guise of attachment parenting. Attachment parenting, for me is not purely positive reinforcement. While that may be a useful tool to have in our arsenal from time to time, to encourage good behavior, I have yet to see how it is useful to stop bad behavior. Plus, I would like one person to show me one real-life, adult example of how that works in the real world. It’s not there. Our children’s bosses, college professors, high school football coaches, etc. will not work that way. It is our job to prepare them for the realities of life with grace, kindness and love.
Remember to always discipline with love
You may be thinking, “she only has an 8 month old, what does she know about discipline?” but hear me out. Before I became a mom, I was a nanny for 5 years. (I was with one family of 3 kiddos for 4 years, and had 3 more for a year after that.) These children all ranged from 12 months-10 years. I know a thing or two about the day-to-day discipline or children. Refereeing sibling rivalry, getting homework and chores done, nasty vegetable eating disputes…I have handled it.
When disciplining our children, whether you believe in spanking (no judgment here) or time-outs, a calm-down jar or a sticker chart, it is not beneficial to just enforce the punishment and not have a conversation. It may be easier, it may take less time, but it does not teach the child WHY the behavior was unacceptable so that they can continue to make the positive choice when you aren’t around to enforce it. It doesn’t reinforce that the discipline is out of love. Take the extra time, get down to your child’s eye-level, explain why you had to discipline them, what you would wish they would do in the future (offer an acceptable behavior replacement i.e., he hit his brother because he wouldn’t share the toy, tell him next time he needs to come tell you) and most importantly, always end the conversation by telling that you love them and getting a hug and a kiss. Do not skip this valuable conversation and teaching moment. Yes it takes time and effort, but our children need it.
Finally, if you give your child a warning and they continue with the undesired behavior, you MUST follow through. If you said you would have to leave the party if she screamed at the top of her lungs again, and she screams, no matter how much you don’t want to, or how embarrassing it is, you get up and leave. Do not make a threat you are not willing to follow through with. This only teaches children that you don’t care enough to follow through, that you aren’t strong enough to handle them (all kids like to brag that their dad is strongest right? what if their behavior was a test of your strength? Children get their security from the strength of their parents) or that you don’t mean it and they can get away with whatever they want. The good news is, no matter how you have chosen to handle discipline in the past, it is never too late to change, and our children can always learn. Say what you mean and mean what you say, take the time to talk to your children, to get on their level and listen to them while still holding fast, and make it very clear what is acceptable and what is not. It’s never fair to discipline for something a child didn’t know was unacceptable. Always give a warning, always follow through, and always discipline out of love.
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