When we think about attachment parenting so much of the “talk” surrounding the topic pertains to parenting a baby.
When we think about attachment parenting so much of the “talk” surrounding the topic pertains to parenting a baby. The very root of attachment parenting begins in those first few weeks when the bond of attachment is cemented and being a responsive parent is more important than ever.
However, it is absolutely beneficial to be an attachment parent for an older child. This is not a method of parenting that you begin and abandon at some point in the future. Rather it becomes a way of life and it has so much to offer both parent and child of all ages.
In the same way, it is never too late to begin the principles of attachment parenting. You may notice a certain behaviour or struggle occurring for one or more of your children. You might find yourself going back to the drawing board and considering attachment parenting as a really strong way of helping them. Attachment parenting will bring about so many positives for both the parents and the child in question, even when that child is an older child or a teenager.
When your children become older it can feel a lot more difficult to navigate as a parent. When they were a baby the main influences in their life were people in the family home. As they get older, go to school and meet new friends they are introduced to a whole new world. Different interests, opinions and resistance are to be expected. We may find ourselves feeling disillusioned as parents because what once felt in our control now feels quite scary.
One of the most important things to remember about attachment parenting is that the foundation is respect. Respect is a two-way street and it has been proven that when a child feels respected and listened to, they will reciprocate the very same thing tenfold. Respect involves a level of listening and compassion that makes a relationship feel like a very safe place. It is an open arena where a child, regardless of age, can speak up about their dreams, fears and opinions. This is hugely important for children as they discover and make sense of the world around them.
Responding sensitively to an older child may feel a lot more difficult than it did when they were a baby. Their vocabulary and physical capabilities can prove to be an obstacle. If they don’t like what they hear they are very likely to simply tune out or walk away. These are the situations where patience and compassion are extremely important. Working out why your child is having a tantrum or displaying difficult behaviour is really important. If they feel attacked and misunderstood there is always the possibility that they will retreat even more.
The very same can be said for the labels that we give our older children. We may not realize how often we are referring to one child as “naughty” or “cheeky”. It may even be said in a tone of humour. Unfortunately, this is a very good reason for your child to adopt this persona and accept this label. All children have the ability to misbehave and be difficult but it is important that we do not assign them this title. A particular behaviour does not define them – in the same way that it does not define us as adults.
When it comes to being an attachment parent empathy is so important. When our children are babies we feed them, cuddle them and provide for their every need purely based on the fact that it is what they need. That level of empathy is just as important for older children.
Their needs have changed and while they are a little less black and white they require the same level of care. Showing your older children empathy and responding sensitively to their behaviour will show them that you are a safe person that listens and has their best interest at heart. In turn, it will help them to become adults that display empathy and sensitivity towards other people.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.