New fads tend to rule book sales and parenting practices. The latest Attachment Parenting fad is a unique trend that promises to promote developmentally appropriate parenting practices for children from all walks of life. Parents can reach into the Attachment Parenting bag of tricks to raise healthy happy children, and can work Attachment Parenting techniques into Therapeutic Parenting plans that address infants and children who suffer from Disorder of Attachment, such as RAD or DSED. Social Development is one critical component of Attachment Parenting that provides essential human-to-human connection and relationship skills to infants, children, and youth.
Infants are born like a blank slate, searching for the face of their beloved parent or caretaker. The bonding that takes place between an infant and parent from the moment of birth is a highly complex aspect of child social development. The gazing of babies and their parents into each others’ eyes is a powerful force in the development of the infant brain. Tiny newborns learn to identify the face, touch, sound, and smell of parents and caregivers. The extent to which parents are sensitive and responsive to infants and children will help determine that little one’s social and attachment development.
Social development is the foundation of all human relationships. The ability of infants to connect with parents and loved ones will help support friendships and romantic relationships later in life. As mature adults, humans must use the Attachment-supportive brain structures developed during childhood to support activities like teamwork, marriage, and parenting later in life. Attachment Parenting strategies focus on promoting these rich Social and Attachment capacities to support a child for a lifetime.
What is different about Attachment Parenting? Typically, parents who claim to be part of the Attachment Parenting wave claim the right to be sensitive, caring, and responsive to their children. They may embrace co-sleeping, wearing their babies in carriers, and responsive child rearing practices. Attachment Parenting is an important trend in parenting awareness, and can give new parents a formula for increasing parental sensitivity and responsiveness – which are crucial for promoting formation of healthy attachment and social development.
Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder (DSED) have experienced an interruption of healthy Attachment Formation. Children with RAD or DSED exhibit unhealthy social skills and behaviors. The infant or child with DSED will be overly friendly without healthy boundaries that promote safety when encountering strangers. The child with RAD may be more withdrawn or even sullen and aggressive toward others. Both patterns represent an extreme type of social development that does not support healthy Attachment Formation and interaction with others.
What is unique about the Attachment Parenting fad is that parents can identify specific skills and strategies that will promote healthy child development of Attachment in accordance with Bowlby’s Attachment Theory. Parents of children with social and attachment development challenges can use some of the same nurturing, sensitive, and responsive parenting strategies that are common to Attachment Parents – but in a therapeutic manner. The application of nurturing and sensitive parenting styles to address Disorders of Attachment like RAD and DSED is referred to as Therapeutic Parenting.
Parents of all children must remember, however, that children respond best to developmentally appropriate parenting and child rearing that is balanced, healthy, and respectful. Parents who are overly attentive may interfere with a child’s development of independence, self-calming, and emotional self-regulation. Even parents who choose sensitive and responsive parenting strategies must provide infants and children with the space to learn how to handle disappointment and negative emotions. Children whose parents always try to step in and prevent all disappointment and hurt in life will not have the opportunity to learn how to focus on positive internal messages, meaning, and purpose.
The Orchard Human Services, Inc. has published a small but mighty e-book called “Raising Social Children” that helps parents target developmentally appropriate child rearing skills to promote healthy Social Development. Parents raising children with Disorders of Attachment, such as RAD or DSED, must promote Social Development as one part of healthy and effective Attachment Formation and Development. A child’s ability to be social with others is the foundation of a lifetime of healthy relationships, rich love, and meaningful human connection.
Darleen Claire Wodzenski, MS ESE, QPPE, MS CMHC is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Exceptional Student Educator (Special Ed Teacher), and Teacher & Parent Trainer. She wrote “Raising Social Children” to provide parents with a useful tool to get them on track with knowing how to engage in the social development of young children. Training is available for Attachment Parenting and Therapeutic Parenting strategies.
Darleen Claire conducts Georgia Bright From the Start approved Continuing Education training for early childhood teachers as well as useful parent training classes both online and around the Greater Metropolitan Atlanta area. If you live in the Metro Atlanta area, you can contact her at OrchardHumanServices.org or call (770) 686 0894 to arrange a face-to-face appointment. Parent training and counseling services (for infants, children, families, and adult) are available around Atlanta, including Dallas, Douglasville, Hiram, Marietta, and Villa Rica GA.
Atlanta RAD Counseling services often include support for IEP and academic learning, as Attachment Development can also affect a child’s ability to succeed in school. Read more from Darleen Claire at ParentBlog.org.