In this post, we’ll look at why overwhelmed attachment parents shouldn’t be concerned and how they can make the most of their attachment parenting approach.
While there may be a lot of pressure to choose one method, the reassuring reality is that you become a parent in an instant, but parenting is a journey. It can take some time to figure out what parenting style you want to use.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Your parenting style may shift as the demands of your family environment change.
This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
Want to learn how to use positive parenting? Register for a free class called GET KIDS TO LISTEN THE RIGHT WAY; an exclusive FREE class from nationally recognized parenting coach, Amy McCready.
What Is Attachment
Attachment in developmental psychology refers to the tie or link created between a child and the primary caregiver, who is generally the mother but can also be the father or other caregivers.
Attachments to caregivers are an inherent tendency for newborns to be as near to the caregiver as possible for safety and survival.
Examples Of Attachment Parenting
You’ve probably seen every sort of wrap, sling, and other baby carrier imaginable, so what’s the big deal about baby wearing? Infant wearing fosters physical connection and trust between the baby and their caregiver, according to the attachment parenting concept. Newborns can learn about their world safely while being worn, and parents can learn about their babies in a symbiotic way.
This is possibly the most divisive of the attachment parenting techniques. Bed-sharing is supposed to minimize a baby’s separation anxiety at night and make overnight breastfeeding simpler for the mother in this manner.
Suffocation, oxygen deprivation, and being caught in the covers (SIDS) or unintentionally ensnared by the caregiver while sleeping are just a few of the major hazards associated with co-sleeping, according to a large body of research. For more information on safe cosleeping check out my friend over at CoSleepy!
Attachment Theory was established by psychiatrist and psychologist John Bowlby (1969), and was later extended and classified by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth. According to this parental attachment theory, there are four commonly known attachment styles: secure attachment, avoidant attachment, resistive attachment, and disordered attachment.
Among them, psychologists all around the globe think that secure attachment is the best type of attachment.
Babies that are firmly bonded cry less, cooperate more, and appreciate their mother’s companionship more. They also get happier and healthier as they grow older.
Ainsworth (1978) discovered that moms with securely connected children were extremely sensitive and attentive to their children’s needs. When a mother develops into a stable attachment figure, she provides a safe sanctuary for the kid to explore.
The kid would feel comfortable and confident in extending himself or herself to the world, knowing that he or she could always retreat to the mother for safety.
As a result, if you discuss attachment parenting with a psychologist or a psychiatrist, they will almost certainly agree that this is the ideal kind of connection.
They are referring to a parenting approach that can lead to secure bonding.
To implement this attachment parenting technique, the caregiver must be sensitive and attentive to the needs of the kid. That’s all!
However, if you talk to parents who have been following the “attachment parenting” trend, you could receive a different perspective. It isn’t entirely different, but it takes the true concept of attachment parenting to a new level – an extreme one.
See also: How Attachment Theory Works
Principals Of Attachment Parenting
API (Attachment Parenting International) is a global educational organization dedicated to this parenting method. Attachment parenting is defined by eight concepts, according to API. Parents have a lot of freedom in how they interpret and apply these ideas. The following are the eight principles:
- Prepare for the upcoming pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Attachment parenting proponents believe it is critical to eliminate negative pregnant ideas and sensations. They claim that doing so prepares a parent for the emotionally taxing labour of parenting.
- Feed with respect and affection. Breastfeeding, according to proponents, is the best way to establish a stable relationship. It also teaches babies that their parents will pay attention to their indications and meet their needs.
- Respond in a sensitive manner. Attachment parenting views all emotional displays, including recurrent tantrums, as genuine attempts at communication. Rather of being chastised or rejected, those attempts should be taken seriously and understood.
- Make use of a nurturing touch. Proponents of attachment parenting advocate for as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. Joint baths and “baby-wearing,” or carrying babies in a front-facing sling during the day, are two ways to do this.
- Parenting at night is a good idea. Experts in attachment parenting recommend “co-sleeping” arrangements. Co-sleeping is when a baby sleeps in the same room as his or her parents so that they may feed and comfort him or her during the night. Some parents “bed-share,” or sleep in the same bed as their children. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics currently advises against use since it may raise the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
- Consistently provide caring care. Attachment parenting advocates for a parent’s near-constant presence in the child’s life. This includes going for walks, having a date night with your parents, and going to work. They oppose childcare for babies less than 30 months for more than 20 hours per week.
- Positive discipline should be practised. Even the tiniest babies should be distracted, redirected, and guided by their parents, who should also model positive conduct. The goal of attachment parenting is to figure out what a child’s undesirable conduct is trying to say. In addition, rather than hitting or just imposing their will on children, parents are encouraged to figure out a solution with their children.
- Maintain a sense of balance in your personal and family life. Parents are encouraged to form a support system, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and avoid parental burnout.
Why Is the Bond Between Mother and Child so Strong?
From the grocery store to the office, women are still seen as having a “unique link” with their children. This is exacerbated by advertising and the widespread belief that moms will take parental leave.
Is there really any reason to believe that mothers are more qualified to care for their children than males in today’s quickly changing society? Some say that a woman’s biology has a superior “maternal instinct.” Do pregnancy, hormones, or parenting experiences, on the other hand, actually strengthen a couple’s bond? Let us examine the scientific evidence.
Some researchers believe that a parent-child relationship might begin before the child is born. They suggest that “antenatal bonding,” or feeling linked to an unborn child, is a key predictor of the infant-mother relationship. However, the data tying prenatal feelings about the baby to postnatal behavior is mixed, so it’s unclear how – or even if – such feelings influence later interactions.
But, even if this is proven, another issue is that most studies in this area have been undertaken with moms. We’re starting to realize that fathers have prenatal relationships as well. As many who have adopted a kid or created a family through surrogacy arrangements know, not having any experience with pregnancy does not indicate that later relationships are jeopardized.
How Does the Bonding Between Parents and a Child Develop
One of the most enjoyable components of newborn care is bonding with your child. Begin by gently rocking or stroking your infant while cuddling him or her. If you and your spouse both hold and touch your baby on a regular basis, your baby will quickly learn to distinguish between your touches. When feeding or cuddling your infant, both of you can be “skin to skin” with him or her by holding him or her against your own skin.
Infant massage may have a positive effect on babies, especially premature babies and those with medical issues. You’ll need to massage your baby extremely gently because babies aren’t as powerful as adults. Before you try infant massage, educate yourself on suitable techniques by reading books, watching videos, and visiting websites on the subject. You can also inquire at your local hospital to see if there are any newborn massage classes available in your region.
Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are both natural ways for parents and children to bond. Infants respond to their mothers’ smell and touch, as well as their parents’ response to their needs. Caregivers aim to take advantage of the infant’s alert phase shortly after birth in an easy birth by encouraging feeding and holding the baby. However, this isn’t always possible, and while it’s desirable, instant contact isn’t required for the child and parent to bond in the future.
What is Attachment Parenting and What is Not
Attachment parenting was coined by doctor William Sears in his book Attachment Parenting, or derived from the aforementioned psychology idea (1993).
Attachment from Sears Eight principles have been proposed as a loose definition of parenting. They are as follows:
- Get ready for pregnancy, delivery, and parenthood.
- Feed with love and respect.
- Respond with tact.
- Make use of caring touch.
- Ensure a restful night’s sleep, both physically and mentally.
- Consistent and loving attention
- Use positive discipline.
- Maintain a sense of equilibrium in your personal and family life.
At first appearance, these eight criteria appear to be connected with a secure connection, as evidenced by scientific investigations. As a result, such is not contentious.
The issues stem from the particular recommendations given for these concepts in Sears’ book.
These techniques are deemed impractical and excessive.
They also lack significant peer-reviewed scientific research to back up their efficacy when parents raise their children in this manner.
Sears, for example, promotes continued nursing of the infant after infancy until the baby wishes to quit.
Although studies have proven that breastfeeding is beneficial, the majority of them were behaviored on newborns who were nursed for 3 to 9 months only, not for “as long as the child wants.”
Many working moms could be unable to breastfeed as extensively after they return to work unless their employers are supportive and give adequate space and time.
Unfortunately, the majority of employers, particularly those in blue-collar occupations, are not. It just isn’t practicable, and it hasn’t been scientifically proved to be useful.
Sears also encourages co-sleeping or sleeping in the same bed.
Close physical touch provides several benefits to the infant, which is why co-sleeping is recommended.
To avoid SIDS, however, an updated guideline released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 suggests that newborns sleep in the same room as their parents, but not in the same bed (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The most damaging claim in Sear’s version of attachment parenting is that if a child is not met with responsiveness from their parents, they will develop Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a psychiatric condition defined as markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in young children.
In actuality, RAD is caused by extreme physical and mental deprivation, which is common among institutionalised children, such as orphans in Romanian orphanages 6.
For years, these children’s had no physical or emotional touch with anyone.
Their RADs were not the consequence of working moms who were unable to nurse on cue until their children were 5 8 years old.
Extending the findings of RAD research to demonstrate the usefulness of this extreme type of attachment parenting styles substantially weakens its credibility.
Is Attachment Parenting Really Controversial
It’s unfortunate that such a general name was coined and confused with the genuine attachment theory, which has made significant contributions to our knowledge of child development.
Let us try to clear up some misunderstandings.
Attachment theory is not contentious in and of itself.
Attachment theory and the parenting style defined by it have withstood the test of time.
Many psychologists and psychiatrists have behaviored numerous studies and tests on humans all around the world, with similar results.
Unfortunately, even reputable sources may get this incorrectly.
Most individuals are perplexed by the following points:
- Attachment theory is not debatable. Attachment parenting is a parenting style prescribed in the name of Attachment theory.
- Although Bowlby’s original notion was influenced by animal attachment, Ainsworth’s in-depth research of human newborns in Uganda resulted in the attachment theory we know today. Many human-based research across the world have validated this concept.
- Attachment theory was developed in the 1960s and is not a new parenting theory invented by Sears.
It’s hardly surprise that many people are confused by the two identical names when false information spreads like wildfire, even on reputable sources.
Is Attachment Parenting Bad
According to attachment theory, stable attachment occurs when a main caregiver is consistently and properly attentive and sensitive to their children’s needs.
However, no studies have ever defined or demonstrated the ideal level of responsiveness and sensitivity.
It’s critical to recognise extremes for what they are: extremes.
To live a healthy life and make the most of the attachment experience, employ moderation, common sense, and awareness of your personal circumstances.
So, even if you are not baby wearing or having skin-to-skin contact around the clock, or if you do not co-sleep with them in the same bed, the secure attachment will grow as long as you are attentive and sensitive to their needs on a continuous basis.
You’re still a decent parent. Your child can still have a happy and healthy life. You will still have a tight, beautiful relationship with your child. The bond will endure a lifetime.
That is all that is important.
More On Parenting Science
- Living & Parenting Without Violence
- What Is The Difference Between Gentle Parenting And Attachment Parenting
- Introduction To Needs And Feelings – What Makes Us Do What We Do?
- How Attachment Theory Works
- What Is Attachment Parenting
- Understanding Disorganized Attachment And How To Heal It
- What Is The Internal Working Model Of Attachment
- Amazing Benefits Of Hugging Your Children
- Types Of Extrinsic Motivation
- What Is Extinction When It Comes To Raising Kids
- Brain Development And Childhood Learning: Critical Period
- Psychology’s Resilience Theory (Definition & Characteristics)
- Child Temperament And Examples – Simple Baby Versus Difficult Baby
- Insights To Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Motivation
- Facts About The Diathesis Stress Model In Parenting
- What Is Spatial Intelligence And How Does It Help Kids
- Strategies To Using Shaping Psychology While Raising Kids
- Using The Child Ego State To Connect
- Legit Classical Conditioning Examples In Real Life Parenting
- Operant Conditioning In Psychology
- Strange Situation: Mary Ainsworth
Need More Parenting Help?
Register For A FREE Parenting Class
Register for a free class called GET KIDS TO LISTEN THE RIGHT WAY; an exclusive FREE class from nationally recognized parenting coach, Amy McCready.
“GENTLE PARENTING IS A LIFESTYLE THAT EMBRACES BOTH YOUR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR, NOT ONLY TOWARDS YOUR CHILDREN, BUT TO YOURSELF TOO“— SARA HOCKWELL-SMITH
- 1.Van Rosmalen L, Van der Veer R, Van der Horst F. AINSWORTH’S STRANGE SITUATION PROCEDURE: THE ORIGIN OF AN INSTRUMENT. J Hist Behav Sci. May 2015:261-284. doi:10.1002/jhbs.21729
- 2.Attachment Parenting I. API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. API Attachment Parenting International. http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/api.
- 3.Turck D. Allaitement maternel : les bénéfices pour la santé de l’enfant et de sa mère. Archives de Pédiatrie. December 2005:S145-S165. doi:10.1016/j.arcped.2005.10.006
- 4.Heinig MJ, Dewey KG. Health Advantages of Breast Feeding for Infants: a Critical Review. Nutr Res Rev. January 1996:89-110. doi:10.1079/nrr19960007
- 5.McCrory C, Murray A. The Effect of Breastfeeding on Neuro-Development in Infancy. Matern Child Health J. November 2012:1680-1688. doi:10.1007/s10995-012-1182-9
- 6.Zeanah CH, Smyke AT, Koga SF, Carlson E. Attachment in Institutionalized and Community Children in Romania. Child Development. September 2005:1015-1028. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00894.x
- 7.Hornor G. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. July 2008:234-239. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2007.07.003
- 8.Smith PK. Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Practice and Evidence, * Vivien Prior and Danya Glaser, * London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006, pp. 288, ISBN 1-84310-245-5, 19.99. British Journal of Social Work. March 2006:363-364. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcm007
- 9.HOGHUGHI M, SPEIGHT ANP. Good enough parenting for all children—a strategy for a healthier society. Archives of Disease in Childhood. April 1998:293-296. doi:10.1136/adc.78.4.293