So, we all know what AP looks like for a baby. It includes things like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, ect. It is based on the concepts outlined it the continuum concept. But how does this translate into parenting of the older child? It's easy to foster attachment to a child that rides on your body for much of the day. How do you nurture attachment to a school age child? I struggle many times with guilt over feeling like my son gets so much more of my attention and time than my daughter does. I know it boils down to the fact that he is more demanding with his needs. My daughter doesn't need a nappy to be changed anymore..... I don't wear her (she's 6), she sleeps through the night in her own bed, and when she is thirsty, she can get herself a cup of water. So it's perfectly natural/normal for my son to be a bit more...... needy. :) Here's the thing though.... It is just as important for my daughter to feel that I'm dependable as it is for my son. J-kun knows that if he calls for me, I WILL respond to him. Shouldn't my daughter have the same confidence? So here are some tips to keep our children feeling attached, nurtured, respected, cherished, and secure into their school years.
Here are the 7 baby "Bs" and how I would suggest they translate into dealing with older children
1~Birth Bonding..... Ok... drop 'birth' and what is left? Bonding! How does one bond with someone else? Share experiences!! Bonding is a process that can continue past the point of birth. We bond when life experiences are shared and we are drawn closer together as a result. Do things with your child. Be there when important events occur. Learn with your child. Encourage your child. Cheer on your child. Be at the spelling bee, soccer game, awards ceremony, dentist appointment, ect. Include your kids in what you're doing day to day. Making dinner? Let your kids wash the veggies. Just because a child CAN entertain themselves for long periods of time, doesn't mean they should be left alone while you go about your daily business. You may get everything done that you want, but at what cost?
2~Babywearing....... This is a method, not the underlying principle. The idea is to maintain a high-touch style of parenting. As your children get older, they continue to need this form of affection. Hugs, pats on the back, high fives, snuggle time... all these are ways to continue this concept. I like to rub lotion on my daughter's arms and hands after a bath. My brother used to wrestle with my dad. He thought he was so tough cuz he always won. My Dad was such a great attached father. He still is. He is quick to offer a hug or a shoulder rub. And I'm 26! I still appreciate it. My mom is the same way. So many times, while sitting in church, she would reach over and scratch my back, or massage my hand. (that feels so good btw.... ) Those little touches that nobody else saw made me feel like I had a great "secret" It wasn't done to make herself look like a good mom to onlookers, it was genuine affection meant just for me. Kids love/need the reassurance in a cruel and violent world that there is love and affection available to them. Don't withhold affection because you are angry. Address negative behavior and then hug them. Your love is not dependent upon their behavior.... so prove it in your actions.
3~ Bedding close to baby.....Your child is likely sleeping on his or her own at this point, but if your child is like mine, there are times that because of bad dreams or insomnia, your child wanders into your room. Our bed is always open to a little person in need of some cuddles in the night. Nothing chases away bad dreams faster than the safety of mom and dad's bed. Nighttime parenting does not end when your child sleeps through the night.
4~Breastfeeding...... While your kids will wean at some point, their need for healthy, well balanced eating does not stop. We like our produce to be organically grown, our pasta to be whole grain, our meat to be growth hormone free, and our farmers to be local. We're working towards growing much of our own, but until we get there, the farmer's market is a good option. This is a GREAT cookbook for kids: http://www.doitdelicious.com/
5~Belief in the value of baby's cry...... or older child's words. Listen to your kids. Identify the underlying emotions. Validate their feelings. This doesn't mean you should allow your children to speak disrespectfully to you, but you could try something like this, "I know you feel frustrated and angry right now, and I want to hear what you have to say, but it's hard for me to understand you when you are wining like that. Can you try to say it clearly and respectfully?" Or when your kids are still younger, offer them alternative wording. They may not be able to think of a different way to say it. "Instead of saying, 'I'm huuuuunnnngrrryyyyy!!!' did you mean to say, 'mommy, may I please have a snack?'" Open, respectful communication is soooo important especially as your kids move into adolescence. If your kids don't feel like they can talk to you, they will talk to someone else. Do you really trust a complete stranger to advise your child regarding important issues and decisions in their life? The open communication starts now.
6~Beware of baby trainers...... You are the expert on your child. You can accept advice with grace, but nobody else has the complete picture of your child. Trust in the Lord and the intuition He has given you when parenting your kids. Just because a Dr says you should put your kids on behavior modifying meds doesn't mean you have to. You may think my kid is a handful, but I'd rather my hands be full of love than anything else, any day!!!
7~Balance......Keep your focus on Jesus. He can lead and guide you in the best way to be the best for your children. Love the Lord and love your kids. That's what it all boils down to. Chuck Smith says, "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken". Truer words aren't often spoken.
So that being said, I gotta go make a snack for my 6 year old.....
Until next time