My parenting style was pretty, um, unrefined, when sweet Agent E came along. Breastfeeding and sleep baffled me the most. In the early days, I remember thinking she can’t possibly want to nurse again. Again! Seriously, didn’t I just feed her? The second she dozed off (or stopped eating, or stopped crying) I made a beeline for the bassinet. I put her down. She protested. What was I doing wrong? Weren’t infants supposed to just lie there quietly, either sleeping or cooing at the ceiling, unless you were tending to their immediate needs?
|Happy (and chubby, and bald) |
4-month-old Agent E
Then I discovered Something Very Important: The goal is not to put the baby down. The goal, as it turns out, is to know your baby. Once I accepted this little epiphany my mothering became much more intuitive and relaxed. (And lucky for her two siblings, Momma had way more reasonable expectations by the time they came along.)
As E grew I became more interested in attachment parenting and developing a secure connection with her. And today I still have the same goal: to know my child.
Following are some ways we incorporate AP principles into life with an almost-six-year-old.
When we offer healthy meals and snacks, trust her assessment of when she is hungry and when she is full, never force "one bite" of something, do not make certain foods forbidden, and treat food as energy for our bodies instead of a battleground, we feed with love and respect.
When we strive to understand the reasons (and potential unmet needs) behind undesirable behavior, make an effort to include her in decisions that affect her, and encourage her to direct her own play and learning, we respond with sensitivity.
When we sit side-by-side on the couch with a good book (or a good movie and a bowl of popcorn), dance together in the middle of the living room just because, and reconnect every morning and evening with snuggle time, we use nurturing touch.
|Agent E today|
When we honor her sensitive nature when it comes to remembering dreams (good and bad), understand there will be times she needs reassurance (even at "inconvenient" times), and accept the fact that my little 6:00 a.m. shadow may just be an early riser like her mother, we ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally.
When we respect her readiness for separation, allow for an adjustment period when entering a new situation away from mom and dad, and let her needs and maturity guide how much independence she is prepared to handle, we provide consistent and loving care.
When we demonstrate instead of demand, avoid punitive consequences, and teach not train, we practice positive discipline.
What are some ways you connect with an older child?
- "Keep Them Close and Let Them Go: Fostering Healthy Attachment As They Grow" — Helen at Zen Mummy wonders how to maintain a healthy attachment as our children become more independent.
- "Honesty (With Your Children) is the Best Policy" — Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children shares how honesty with her children is helping to build an authentic relationship which will last through the teen years and beyond.
- "Fostering Healthy Attachment?" — Momma Jorje discusses how she is building a foundation of attachment with her children and how she hopes it serves them in their lives as they grow into adults.
- Beyond Bookend Parenting — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting describes their efforts to maintain their toddler's attachment to her working parent through play and routines throughout the day.
- Have You "Huggled" Today? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how "huggles" work like magic in her home.
- Your Childhood=Your Child's Childhood? — Amy at A Secure Base examines the research about how our attachment experience can shape our attachment with our children.
- List-Making Activities to Celebrate Family Connections — Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares some family list-making activities that will help you reflect on what you love about your family and can spark ideas for future family fun.
- How To Keep in Touch With Distant Grandparents — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers several tips to foster connection with relatives who live far away.
- Beyond Bonding: The Power of Positioning in Babywearing — Steffany, a babywearing educator, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, explains how optimal positioning in quality carriers can help babies' physical growth, brain development, and overall attachment.
- Playing Follow the Leader — Zoie at TouchstoneZ has learned that the more she meets her children where they are rather than where she would like them to be, the greater the elasticity of their bonds are.
- The Evolution of Attachment: Parenting Without a Roadmap — Sheila at A Living Family reflects on her family's recent generation of mothers and shares how she is working to make an evolutionary leap towards forming healthy attachment.
- Facilitating Sibling Connection — Laura at Authentic Parenting gives a set of pointers on how to facilitate sibling bonding.
- The Farm in my Bed — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses fostering children's healthy attachment to "lovies" and comfort objects..
- My Early Morning Shadow - Valerie at Momma in Progress shares a few ways she maintains a strong connection with her almost-six-year-old daughter.