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Why Attachment Parenting Is About Nurturing, Not Spoiling

Why Attachment Parenting Is About Nurturing, Not Spoiling

If you have had a baby, you know that babies are a lot of work. Not just a little bit of work. They require round the clock care and they will take over your life as you know it. No joke, a tiny human being can turn your life upside down in a heartbeat. It’s not just that they need constant physical care, but they need emotional care too. Physically they cry, poop themselves, need constant changing, and they need to be fed every couple of hours, even during the night! That is just a normal baby. Imagine a baby with reflux or colic that cries for hours on end. It happens.

Babies require an enormous amount of physical care, but their physical care affects their emotional well being for a lifetime. An entire body of work on Attachment Parenting, also know as AP, has proven that the level of care for a baby affects their social, emotional, intellectual, and mental abilities for the rest of their life.

If care for an infant does not involve the appropriate care required for attachment to happen with a caregiver, then the rest of that baby’s life can forever be affected. It is a huge responsibility for parents and caregivers. Attachment and creating a bond between a baby and a caregiver is just as important to a baby as providing food for that baby. The attachment and efforts to bond come from the caregiver, as babies are helpless. However, babies are born with an innate need to bond and attach to someone, typically the person who is the primary caregiver.

Babies are born to emotionally and physically attached to someone in order to survive.

John Bowlby is the developmental researcher and theorist who coined the term “attachment theory” back in the 1960’s. This theory proposes that a baby must be emotionally and physically attached to at least one care giver in order to develop normally. The theory, which has been heavily researched by thousands over the years, has overwhelmingly pointed to the overall benefits of Attachment Parenting practices. These benefits go far beyond infancy and childhood. A child who is “attached” will benefit from their early care for a lifetime.

The Aha! Parenting Website provided some great commentary on this body of research on the Attachment Parenting theory:[1]

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Is “Attachment Parenting” a science? Yes. Decades of research, including longitudinal studies, shows that as securely attached babies get older, they form better relationships with others, have higher self esteem, are more flexible and resilient under stress, and perform better in every aspect of life, from schoolwork to peer interactions..

Please don’t panic and worry if you don’t know about the theory and you assume because you don’t know what it is that you didn’t practice Attachment Parenting methods. Many parents use attachment practices and don’t know about the theory at all.

It is important to understand that these methods are not only helpful, but essential to creating well adjusted children and adults. Infancy is such an important phase of development and the level of care of an infant should not be taken lighly.

Without significant attachment, babies have social connection problems later in life.

There is plenty of research that has proven Attachment Parenting to be effective in helping babies become more well adjusted, emotionally stable adults. There is also a down side for those babies who do not attach to a caregiver. There are extreme cases such as babies in orphanages who are not held in infancy who end up very detached and have serious emotional and social connection problems later in life. That is an extreme example, but babies in regular households can experience problems if attachment is not made with a parent or caregiver. The practices and patterns of Attachment Parenting are essential for normal childhood development.

New York Magazine has a great piece on the Attachment Parenting theory.[2] Here is a quote from that article about how a lack of Attachment Parenting practices can cause major problems:

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Researchers believe this pattern of attachment, assessed as early as one year, is more important than temperament, IQ, social class, and parenting style to a person’s development. A boom in attachment research now links adult attachment insecurity with a host of problems, from sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety to a decreased concern with moral injustice and less likelihood of being seen as a “natural leader.”

Obviously, there are clear benefits to practicing Attachment Parenting methods. The sake of the development of all humans is dependent on it. It is up to parents and caregivers to provide the proper care of their infant in order to ensure that attachment happens.

Attachment parenting is one way to ensure that attachment happens.

Researchers have been trying to pin down the exact methods of proper Attachment Parenting practices. Here are six of the most widely accepted and research proven Attachment Parenting practices for infants. Keep in mind that researchers have shown that you do not need to do all of these in order for a baby to attach. Just doing several of these practices is enough for a baby to attach to their caregiver.

There is no such thing as spoiling a baby. That has been proven to be a myth. Therefore, the more of the Attachment Parenting practices you utilize, the better it is for the attachment and overall development of the child. You are not spoiling a child by doing these things. You are creating a well adjusted human being by utilizing these Attachment Parenting practices.

1. Sleep near the baby

Safety is foremost in the care of an infant, but sleeping near a baby is possible with safe methods. There are co-sleeping units on the market that allow parents to sleep near their child and touch the child as they both sleep. Sleeping near the infant allows the caregiver to easily feed the baby at night and also soothe the infant when he or she cries. The Mother How Website has some practical tips for safely co-sleeping with an infant.[3]

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    2. Feed on demand

    Back in the 1950’s the primary theory regarding baby feedings was that you put the baby on a strict feeding schedule according to a timed schedule. Babies were only to be fed at the scheduled feeding times, regardless of the babies crying or hunger cues. The Attachment Parenting theory proposes that babies are to be fed on demand. When they cry or indicate they are hungry their care giver is to feed them. Schedule or timing does not matter, it is more important that the baby’s needs are met.

    Attachment Parenting International also specifies that breastfeeding is the best way for a baby to attach to the Mother.[4] If breastfeeding is not possible, or does not work out for one reason or another for some moms, just always try to create a physical bond with the babies. The Attachment Parenting theory is all about physical bond which creates an emotional connection between Mom and baby.

    3. Practice empathetic care

    Babies do not need scolding or harsh treatment. In fact those things have been proven to be detrimental to their development. Babies need sensitive care and love. It is essential to healthy development. Attachment Parenting International provides specifics on this topic of treating infants with sensitivity.[5]

    4. Ensure physical closeness with touch

    Keeping baby close by physically touching and holding the infant are essential to Attachment Parenting practices. Babies need to be held and cuddled. A practical way for busy Moms to do this consistently is by baby wearing. Using a sling or baby carrier to attach baby to Mom (or caregiver) is a great way to create physical closeness between Mom and baby.

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    5. Be attentive to baby’s needs

    Good Attachment Parenting practices include being attentive to the baby’s needs. If the baby is crying the caregiver needs to be prompt in trying to assess why the crying is happening and to remedy the problem. It’s about meeting the needs of the baby in a timely fashion. Baby’s needs come before all else. It is detrimental to babies, especially in early infancy, to be left to cry. When a baby cries and someone repeatedly ignores those cries, chemical brain activity is altered and can have long term damaging effects.

    6. Show consistent care

    This is tough for many families, as both parents are working and child care is needed. However, consistent care means that the primary care giver, typically a parent, does most of the care for the baby. This gives the opportunity for that baby to then attach. If the baby is cared for by a multitude of people on a regular basis, it becomes more difficult for the baby to attach to at least one person. If at all possible, it is best for a parent to stay home and take time off work, ideally at least six months, for the benefit of the child. Attachment is much more likely to be successful when their primary caregiver is there during the day and night, especially in early infancy.

    Babies are only babies once. There are no do-overs.

    The time goes by so quickly and those first months of life affect the entire rest of their life, as major mental and emotional developments happen in the first year of life. The primary care giver of an infant has a huge responsibility. It’s possible that some working moms face challenges in being around their babies every single minute, and it’s okay because the main point is to maintain the bonding with their babies no matter what.

    Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    Doctor of Psychology

    Entitled Kids Are Parents’ Biggest Enemies How to Regain Broken Trust in a Relationship Most Overlooked Signs of Autism in Children (And What Parents Can Do) Parents Are Their Own Worst Enemies How To Raise Healthy, Happy Kids After Going Through a Divorce

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

    Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

    He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

    If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

    What is a narcissistic personality?

    Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

    In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

    Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

    the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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    Traits of a narcissist:

    • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
    • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
    • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
    • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
    • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

    How are narcissists different from others?

    Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

    Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

    We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

    Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

    Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

    Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

    Why do people become narcissists?

    1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

    The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

    Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

    Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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    Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

    2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

    Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

    Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

    Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

    How to deal with a narcissist?

    1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

    There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

    2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

    Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

    Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

    3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

    Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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    When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

    This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

    4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

    Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

    Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

    There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

    If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

    5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

    You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

    There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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    Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

    6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

    Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

    7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

    If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

    Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

    For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

    8. Learn when to walk away.

    When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

    If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

    Reference

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