I can still re­mem­ber the days when a good

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

LL par­ents are at­tached to their chil­dren, so isn’t at­tach­ment par­ent­ing just what ev­ery­one does al­ready? To some ex­tent, yes. But at­tach­ment par­ent­ing (AP) ex­perts be­lieve many par­ents don’t give nat­u­ral, bond-led child rear­ing enough at­ten­tion, so they’re urg­ing mums and dads to think about try­ing the par­ent­ing method. THE idea be­hind AP is that, as a child’s first few years of life are so im­por­tant to their de­vel­op­ment, the best way to meet their needs is to form a se­cure at­tach­ment with them.

Some of the ba­sics of AP are nat­u­ral child­birth, re­spond­ing im­me­di­ately to cry­ing, breast­feed­ing when the child de­sires it, hold­ing and car­ry­ing the baby or wear­ing it in a sling, and co-sleep­ing.

How­ever, if par­ents can’t do all, or even one of these things, they can still prac­tice at­tach­ment par­ent­ing stresses Michelle McHale, founder of At­tach­ment Par­ent­ing UK.

She sug­gests that, sim­ply re­spond­ing to young chil­dren sen­si­tively and con­sis­tently, us­ing pos­i­tive dis­ci­pline, and fol­low­ing their in­stincts, all counts.

The mother of two says she first dis­cov­ered AP when her el­dest daugh­ter, Izzy, was ul­tra-at­tached as a baby.

Michelle dealt with her daugh­ter’s be­hav­iour by rais­ing her in a “very nat­u­ral” bond-fo­cused way, and dis­cov­ered years later that Izzy had two rare heart de­fects, which may have ex­plained her strong need for con­stant touch and close­ness. Here, Michelle out­lines three

rea­sons to try AP: WHEN par­ents are sen­si­tive and con­sis­tent – key as­pects of AP – their chil­dren are primed to be­come nat­u­rally in­de­pen­dent, self­mo­ti­vated and are more likely to co-op­er­ate and com­mu­ni­cate in pos­i­tive ways. “The child’s ear­li­est at­tach­ments help build the foun­da­tions for trust­ing, healthy adult re­la­tion­ships,” says Michelle. RE­SEARCH shows be­ing touched and loved is es­sen­tial to a baby’s healthy brain de­vel­op­ment.

A 2014 Amer­i­can study found in­fants learn lan­guage more rapidly when care­givers are very re­spon­sive, and fur­ther re­search has con­cluded that young chil­dren de­velop bet­ter prob­lem-solving abil­i­ties, at­ten­tion skills and school-readi­ness when their par­ents are sen­si­tive and re­spon­sive.

“Through nur­tur­ing touch and sen­si­tiv­ity to ver­bal and non-ver­bal cues, par­ents can sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of their baby’s pre­frontal cor­tex – the area of the brain re­spon­si­ble for em­pa­thy,” says Michelle.

“This neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy in­flu­ences fu­ture men­tal health.” WITH spe­cific praise and re­wards, chil­dren can be more ad­ven­tur­ous in their learn­ing and de­velop sound judge­ment rather than un­ques­tion­ing obe­di­ence, ex­plains Michelle.

Pos­i­tive dis­ci­pline also recog­nises that when chil­dren feel good, they be­have well; pun­ish­ment is of­ten con­sid­ered counter-ef­fec­tive. AP is based on the prin­ci­ple that par­ents treat chil­dren the way they would want to be treated, with the ul­ti­mate aim of chil­dren de­vel­op­ing a con­science guided by their own in­ter­nal dis­ci­pline and com­pas­sion. Michelle says: “Chil­dren who aren’t phys­i­cally pun­ished are far less pre­dis­posed to ad­dic­tion, an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour or abu­sive­ness in later life.”

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