by Shirley King
Attachment discipline is one aspect of attachment parenting, a term coined by pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears. Attachment parenting, he wrote in Creative Parenting, is a continuum of parenting which is “an uninterrupted, nurturing relationship, specifically attuned to a child’s needs as he passes from one developmental stage to the next.”
Attachment parenting is based on immersion mothering and involved fathering which infer a full time dedication to parenting.
Immersion mothers and involved fathers convey such a profound love to their infant/toddler/child that the child feels good about himself, his parents, and his safety in the world. He is then able to trust and to behave well.
Continuum parents are exceptionally tuned to their child, “responding to them intuitively and confidently” according to Dr. Sears. Attachment discipline is based on this solid foundation of the
parent/infant bond. The foundation doesn’t end with toddlerhood. In fact, it grows stronger and deeper as the child grows. “Attachment parenting,” writes Dr. Sears, “puts you and your child in harmony with each other.”
Attachment discipline is loving guidance within the framework of this harmony between the parent and child. Discipline then, can be viewed not as a negative punishment, but instead a positive teaching experience. Attachment discipline is asking myself “What do I want my child to learn in this situation?” and then encouraging the desirable behavior. Encouraging positive behavior is loving guidance.
Loving guidance is based on mutual respect. Respecting our children as decent, worthwhile human beings (which they are) is the way to teach them how to respect others. If we want our children to knock on our doors, for example, we knock on their doors.
Attachment discipline also involves expressing love. Reflective listening is an excellent way to communicate love to a child. Reflective listening is simply listening to what your child is feeling and then gently reflecting it back to him in fresh words. A child who feels truly heard and understood from his point of view will not need to misbehave to gain significance.
Attachment parenting and specifically, attachment discipline, help a child feel significant, worthwhile, and loved. Attachment parenting helps children grow to be happy, contributing, capable and self-reliant people. Attachment discipline leads children toward cooperation and social responsibility, with feelings of independence, security, trust and love. This is what parenting is all about.