|Posted by Mellisa Dormoy on June 2, 2011 at 8:10 AM|
When our children are young, we seek to learn all we can about attachment parenting, because we know it helps our baby develop best -- physically and emotionally. But attachment parenting need not end once a child reaches a certain age. We should remain very much attached, connected, and involved in our child's life, even once that child hits the middles years and beyond.
Some say attachment parenting is a way of life. I tend to agree. It is a parenting style that involves listening to the child's needs. Why must we follow others' rules to put a child in a bedroom far away, all alone, when parents belonging to many other cultures sleep in the same room as their child for all the years the child remains at home? In Japan, the futons are rolled out in the middle of the floor and everyone sleeps together. The youngest child sleeps right beside the mother, and moves closer to the father as new children come along. Still, they are all together, connected as a family.
However, I am not particularly referring to co-sleeping when I mention the benefits of attachment parenting the older child. My own sons have slept in their own rooms happily from a young age, although they still enjoy tiptoeing into my bedroom regularly to fall asleep until Daddy comes to bed. I am particularly referring to mothering in a style that promotes self-esteem, confidence, and happiness within the child. This includes fully listening to a child. It includes bringing the child's feelings into any decision, respect for your child, and making sure your child's best interest in taken into account in all situations. It most likely includes educating your child at home, as a natural, organic extension of what you have done since birth.
The Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting are true for the older child as they are for the younger one:
Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth, and ParentingFeed with Love and RespectRespond with SensitivityUse Nurturing TouchEnsure Safe Sleep, Physically and EmotionallyProvide Consistent Loving CarePractice Positive DisciplineStrive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
When looking at these principles, they are all applicable to the older child.
Let's look at the different principles separately and see how they apply to you today.
An older child needs to be continually fed with love and respect. Are you purchasing the best quality food for your family available to you? When you prepare that food, are you preparing it with love and respect? Of course! Every loving mother takes her time and thinks about nourishing her family when she prepares a meal. If you have not been doing this, start today. There is nothing more tasty than a meal prepared by a mother with love.
When you respond to your older child, do you do so with sensitivity? Of course you do! You are as natural and loving with a younger child as you are when your child matures. There is no age limit to stop nurturing your child. No one expects a child to suddenly go from baby to independent adult. An older child needs that sensitivity and kindness in your responses and reactions. This is true especially when a child encounters difficulties and stress -- and don't forget the varied hormonal levels as they develop.
Next, is your touch nurturing? Do you spend time hugging and kissing your older child? I sure do! My children are very affectionate and they know I love them unconditionally. At ages seven and nine, I still receive many hugs and kisses all throughout the day. We've already touched on co-sleeping, but do you also make sure that your child has talked through any stresses that he or she has had during the day and dealt with them in a healthy way, thus ensuring a refreshing nighttime rest?
You surely provide consistent, loving care to your older child. You are there to listen, share, and counsel. You practice positive discipline. One of the things I always tell children is that mistakes are only learning opportunities. Children should be allowed to learn from their mistakes, not be reprimanded harshly for them. Just as you make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, allow your child the opportunity to learn from his or her own mistakes as well. Use positive discipline with your child, which means not reacting to a situation, but responding to it. Do not engage with rage. Calm yourself down first, and then think of a logical consequence if no natural consequence comes out of a particular behavior. Use discipline, but use it in a positive way that leaves both you and your child understanding the learning experience better.
Finally, the last principle of attachment parenting, which also applies to parenting the older child, is to strive for balance in personal and family life. This is a very important principle to follow. In order to have a harmonious family life and feel fulfilled in your role as a mother, you must have balance. Balance comes from maintaining equilibrium in the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical aspects of your life. You cannot neglect any one of these areas or you will not only feel off-balance but your whole family will suffer because of it.
So you see, attachment parenting isn't something you follow while your child is young, and then suddenly stop. Despite the fact that some parents view attachment parenting as something that ends, it is truly a way of mothering that can and should last your entire life. The principles are beautiful and well thought out. Every family can benefit from attachment parenting at every age.
Attachment Parenting of the Older Child (from my article on nesting .com)