Don't be that helicopter parent. Your child needs room to grow.
The Kid-Centric parenting style is a cool new way of explaining how parents want to make life all giggles and rainbows for their children. Attachment Parenting has emerged as one of the hottest new trends in parenting. The Attachment Parenting model is highly effective as a therapeutic tool when working with children who have suffered trauma, neglect, or abuse. Healthy Attachment Parenting is much more complex, however, than just trying to make life wonderful and nurturing for children. When parents become too Kid-Centric in their parenting style, the dark side of Attachment Parenting starts to emerge.
Attachment is a complex developmental process that allows children to become capable and fit social beings. The term "attachment" was coined by psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the 1960s, and has given rise to a new generation of nurture based parenting. Strategies to promote healthy attachment of infants and children are well documented in scientific literature, and are effective childrearing tools. What Attachment Parenting is NOT, however, is a plan to nurture and coddle children with the idea that they will somehow magically raise themselves to become healthy and effective adults.
Sure, infants and newborns need nurturing, cuddling, cooing, and rich interaction with caregivers. Newborn brains are not fully developed, and time spent rocking and gazing into mommy's eyes is critical for proper neurodevelopment. Attachment Parenting must grow with the child, however, and when toddlers begin to expand their boundaries, caregivers must expand their kid-centric parenting skills in order to meet the full spectrum of their child's needs.
Attachment is the capacity of infants and children to love and be loved, trust and be trusted, care and be cared for. Humans are social beings, and living in society comes with rules. Some rules are for safety. Like 'stay out of the road unless an adult is holding your hand.' That is a valuable safety rule that saves many children's lives every single day. Other rules are for maintaining peace and order in the home. Like 'mouths are for eating, talking, and singing' not biting and spitting at your baby brother.
Children depend on parents to learn complex social and emotional knowledge and skills. Toddlers must learn to regulate their emotions and calm their own temper tantrums. Preschoolers must learn to take turns with friends, share toys, and pay attention to the teacher. Later in life, these important social and emotional skills will support children as they grow up to become lawful citizens, respectful students, effective workers, and loving partners and parents.
Parents who are committed to promoting their child's development of healthy attachment are to be applauded! Parenting is the hardest job on the planet, and raising great children is a feat that deserves recognition. Great parents know, however, that just being nurturing is not enough to raise great kids. Children need to be taught boundaries, respect, lawfulness, and caring.
Teaching limits and boundaries does not have to take parents away from the nurturing Kid-Centric model of parenting. It just involves rounding out the parenting curriculum to include setting healthy limits and boundaries. Allow babies and toddlers to learn to self-soothe and self-calm themselves. Take it in small steps. Remember that these are emerging skills that happen over time. Most of all, refrain from giving attention to negative or unwanted behavior. This may mean walking away while your toddler throws a tantrum or taking away a treat or play time from a preschooler who willfully hurt another child. When parents avoid the temptation to give in to unreasonable demands of their children, they will save their children from the dark side of Attachment Parenting!
Children need to learn from the consequences of their actions. Parents can explore consequence-based parenting to increase the effectiveness of Kid-Centric parenting. Slowly, parents must increase the rules and boundaries that define how a child must act and behave. Providing direct and simple feedback lets children know how they are doing. Teaching children that they are responsible for their moods, words, and actions helps little ones become good family members, students, and citizens. Children require support in growing their social and emotional skills! Give gentle nudges when necessary, and praise a job well done. Most of all, balance out the nurturing with a healthy amount of guidance so your child is able to succeed in the family and the community!
Children who are not raised in an environment that promotes healthy attachment can develop behavior problems. The attachment style of the parent plays a big role in whether child behavior problems or anxious attachment style emerge from little ones during early childhood. Boundary setting and teaching rules about manners and respect are critical for healthy child development. Parents can avoid emotional and behavior problems by rounding out the Attachment Parenting plan to include other critical emotional and social childrearing strategies.
When parents understand the full scope of Attachment Parenting, they are able to expand on the nurturing Kid-Centric model and include all the other important skills that children need to grow up healthy, happy, and whole. Respect, integrity, self-compassion, and love are essential skills that every human needs. Social awareness and lawful behavior are equally important and allow children to grow up to become happy, productive, and successful adults. And that is the purpose of Attachment Parenting after all!