Category Archives: 5. The Adolescent

From age 10 to age 18.

Attachment Parenting and the Adolescent Child

By Chris Oldenburg, originally published on www.BetterParenting.com, reprinted with permission

Creating Bonds that Will Support Teenage Development

Many people who have heard of the term attachment parenting probably envision babies cozied against their mothers in wraps or co-sleeping with their parents. However, this parenting approach of forming close bonds with children through consistent positive interactions is not limited to infants and toddlers. Research shows that adolescents go through a period of such tremendous change that they, too, require some of the same foundations that attachment parenting provides.337571_6215 teen

What is Attachment Parenting?

Obviously attachment parenting is not done the same for infants as it is for teenagers, but some of the same core principles are still present. Infants develop attachments to caregivers when their cries and other signals for needs are met. Caregivers, usually one or two involved parents, are present offering positive support, creating a strong bond with the infant. Contrary to some beliefs, infants do not then grow up to be too dependent on their parents and afraid of venturing into the world alone. Instead they learn positive self-images and gain confidence that allows them to step out and try new things, secure in the relationships they can reach back to if needed. Continue reading

Prevent Your Child From Becoming a Bully

By Sarah Fudin, social media and outreach coordinator for USC Rossier Online.

According to a recent infographic from USC Rossier Online, “School Bullying Outbreak,” one in four children are bullied every month and 160,000 students miss school every day to avoid bullies. But what is really disturbing is how many children can easily become the perpetrator. Up to 42 percent of students have admitted to bullying a peer, and 43 percent of middle school students have threatened to harm a peer. Thus, not only do we need to teach our children how to deal with bullying, we also need to teach them not to engage in bullying behavior.1159995_79733938 outkast

Several studies have shown that secure attachment to parents decreases the chance of a student becoming a bully. In a 2010 study published in the Canadian Journal of School Psychology, “Attachment Quality and Bullying Behavior in School-Aged Youth,” Laura M. Walden and Tanya M. Beran found a correlation between lower quality attachment relationships to primary caregivers and bullying behavior. Students’ sex and grade levels were not significant factors. Students that reported higher quality attachment relationships with their parents were less likely to bully others.

A University of Virginia study conducted by Megan Eliot, M.Ed. and Dewy Cornell, Ph.D., “The Effect of Parental Attachment on Bullying in Middle School,” found a relationship between insecure parental attachment and children who bullied. Continue reading

The Roots of Learning Self-Control

By Shoshana Hayman, director of Life Center, The Israel Center for Attachment Parenting, www.lifecenter.org.il

I was looking forward to a pleasant afternoon on the playground with my grandchildren, only to find all too soon I had to play the part of guard, referee and advocate. There were several other children occupying the swings and slides, and the scenarios that unfolded were to be expected—young children pushing each other, shouting at each other, throwing sand at each other, sticking their tongues out at each other and calling each other names. After watching over the 2-year-old on the steps to the slide so he wouldn’t get pushed down by a rambunctious 3-year-old, it was time to put an end to the sand throwing that was taking place among the 5- and 6-year-olds.  Shoshana

In order for children to be patient, courteous and considerate of each other, they need to be flexible, recover easily from disappointment and adapt quickly to new situations. For example, the child who thought he’d have the slide to himself now has to share it with three other children, and when he runs to the swings, he discovers that they are all occupied by children who got there before him. Besides adaptability, children also need to remember that they care about others at the same time that they are trying to fulfill their own desires. These are the same abilities we adults need in our own relationships. When you think of how difficult it can be sometimes for adults in marriage or in work relationships, you can get a picture of how much more difficult it is for children who are not yet fully developed and mature.

Deep instincts and impulses drive young children’s behavior. When they can’t have something they want, when they don’t win, when someone doesn’t want to play with them, when they are not big or strong enough, when they can’t fix something, when they can’t stop time, when they have to wait, and when things aren’t going as they had planned, they are filled with frustration. This frustration drives them to be impulsive, aggressive and attacking. Their reactions are extreme and untempered. Just like an accident, the impulse to attack simply “happens to them.”  If all goes well developmentally, when children reach the age of 7 or 8, they will begin to have more self-control and consideration for others when they play.   Continue reading

Kids and Sex: Getting Comfortable with “The Talk”

By Kelly Bartlett, author of Encouraging Words for Kids, certified positive discipline educator and Attachment Parenting International leader (API of Portland,Oregon USA), www.kellybartlett.net 

It’s never too early to begin talking with your kids about sex. In fact, the earlier you start, the more comfortable you will feel when it’s time to talk about difficult issues. Here are some age-appropriate topics parents should bring up with their children now to pave the way for less stressful conversations about sexual health in the adolescent years.Kelly Bartlett

Ages 0-2: Positive Perception

There’s no better time to start practicing the language of body talk than when kids are infants. At this age, there’s no pressure to say the “right” thing, and your baby won’t laugh, get nervous or ask any questions. It’s important to get comfortable verbalizing words or bodily functions that may cause some discomfort for you.

According to Dr. Laura Berman, a sex educator, therapist and author of Talking to Your Kids About Sex, something crucial for parents to do while their kids are infants is to adopt a positive view of bodily functions. Shift from looking at a poopy diaper as, “Oh, isn’t that stinky!” to a perspective of, “Wow, you’ve been eating well!” Dr. Berman says many parents have likely learned from their own upbringing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about bowel movements. “When really,” she says, “it’s just a part of life!” Functions involving the genitals are healthy and normal, not something negative or problematic.

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The “Tree Daddy”: A Parenting Metaphor

By Shoshana Hayman, director of Life Center, The Israel Center for Attachment Parenting, www.lifecenter.org.il

The rain poured down relentlessly, with winds blowing so hard that trees were being pulled from their roots and blown over. My husband watched from our window, paying close attention to the row of young fruit trees that we had planted the previous summer. As the wind whipped the mango tree, pulling its branches sideways, my husband put on his coat, found some heavy rope, and headed out into the rain to secure the trees by tying their trunks to the adjacent fence. When he came back into the house, wet and cold from the rain, I half-jokingly told him he was a good “tree daddy.”Shoshana

The idea of “tree daddy” popped into my mind as I thought about how he had protected those young, tender fruit trees.  He had planted them so lovingly in the summertime, and it remained in his consciousness to keep an eye on them to make sure they had the best chance possible to grow into big, strong trees that would bear sweet fruit one day in the future. He does not have to constantly push and pull at the branches of the trees to make them grow; he does not have to give them commands how to grow. He believes the fruit will some day come, and he simply has to make the sure that the trees have the right conditions for growth and protection from anything that could hurt them.

As parents, this is what we provide for our children. We believe in their potential for growth. Deep inside them are the seeds for becoming truly mature. They will develop the flexibility and resilience needed to withstand the harshness of the world. They have the capacity for being considerate and caring towards others while feeling secure in their own values. Their own aspirations and goals in life will take shape over time, together with the courage and resourcefulness needed to realize these goals. They can become responsible and self-directed so that they can create a life of meaning and fulfillment for themselves.

When we believe this to be true, we have but to protect this development. Just as the “tree daddy” keeps it in his consciousness to watch over the trees so they will be safe and protected, so too, we need to protect and shield our children from too much vulnerability until they can hold on to themselves in the world. We don’t need to push and pull at our children’s growth. Each child will develop in his own time at his own rate, and little by little we will see the fruits of this growth—the fine human character traits that we long to see in them.

What must be protected and shielded in our children is their hearts. Children are the most sensitive and vulnerable of all creatures. In order to not only survive in the world but also to truly blossom and flourish, children need soft hearts. They need their emotions to move them towards caring, consideration, caution and carefulness. Without these emotions, children lose the feelings and perceptions needed for their development as human beings. They fail to become adaptive and able to overcome adversity. They lose their sense of self and purpose in life and along with this their capacity to feel fulfillment. Life is seen through their eyes as being black and white, as they cannot see the dissonance in life and the many dimensions that color and characterize the events in our lives. Continue reading

Listening for Understanding

By Kelly Bartlett, author of Encouraging Words for Kids, certified positive discipline educator and Attachment Parenting leader (API of Portland,Oregon USA), www.kellybartlett.net

Parents spend a significant amount of time talking to kids. We have a lifetime of information and lessons to share with them, and we’re constantly searching for the most effective ways to talk to our kids so they will listen to all we have to say. But in parent-child relationships, it’s listening that begets listening. Kelly Bartlett

Listening nonjudgmentally to children allows them to feel accepted. When parents listen for a sense of understanding—that is, recognizing who our children are and what they are communicating beyond the presence of any adversarial words or behaviors—children feel understood and secure in the relationship. When we take the time to listen to children, our relationships deepen.

How can you communicate to kids that you hear and accept them? Here are a few tips for strengthening your relationships with your children through improved listening skills.

Don’t solve. Don’t tell your child what she should do. This takes away from her ability to figure something out for herself. When children come to a parent to talk, they’re looking more for validation and support than answers and directions. No matter a child’s age, when she decides for herself what to do, she assumes responsibility and gains confidence. Continue reading

When Siblings Hurt Each Other

By Shoshana Hayman, director of Life Center, The Israel Center for Attachment Parenting, www.lifecenter.org.il

It’s sometimes said that parents shouldn’t get involved when siblings fight, but rather let them work it out themselves. Sometimes children do settle their differences. But more often than not, they are mean and hurtful to each other. Siblings are a source of great frustration to each other. Each one is a constant reminder to the other that parents, food, clothing, toys and space must be shared. Older siblings resent younger ones because they think that the younger ones get more attention. Younger siblings resent older ones because they are more capable and get more privileges. Just about anything can ignite an aggressive attack and lots of tears.  Shoshana

Parents do need to intervene and protect children from the insults, aggression and bullying that they inflict on each other. Children depend on their parents to protect them from getting hurt. Part of parental responsibility is to give children the secure feeling that the parent is in charge and will not let the people they love the most hurt each other.

We so much want our children to respect and care about each other. For this to happen, a child needs three things from us.

1. Parents must stay in the lead. The parent-child relationship must be hierarchical, with the child dependent on the parent.  The child needs to feel cared for, nurtured and significant in the eyes of her parent. When a child is generously cared for, she develops within herself the capacity to care for others.

When a parent is busy taking care of younger children, the older child is often expected to be responsible and do the things for herself that she knows how to do.  It’s important for us to remember that even though she’s older, she still needs affection, to feel cared for and nurtured, and to feel that she matters and brings delight to her parents.  Even when she can dress herself or in other ways take care of herself, she still needs the comforting feeling of mom or dad occasionally doing these things for her. When she is filled daily with these expressions of love, she will more naturally have caring feelings towards her younger brother or sister. Continue reading

Grief in Children

By Margie Wagner & Callie Little, Child Development Media, www.childdevelopmentmedia.com, reprinted with permission

It goes without saying that the grieving process is a complicated and intensely personal one. It is difficult enough for adults to deal with the loss of a loved one, but it can be even more difficult for children, particularly if their adult caregivers are working through their own grief. Understanding how grief affects children at various developmental stages and knowing the best ways to assist children as they grieve can help children to process their grief in the most healthy way possible. Keep in mind that, while grief is usually associated with a death, there are many circumstances under which children grieve. Separation due to the dissolution of a relationship or due to a military deployment or job-related separation can also cause grief in children.

Reactions to Loss and How to Help

How old a child is at the time of loss certainly affects the child’s perception of the event.  Although babies are unable to express themselves verbally, they will certainly exhibit reactions to loss. They may seem more fussy, inconsolable, or have changes in their eating and sleeping patterns. Very young children, ages 2 to 4, are egocentric: they think the world revolves around them, and their concept of death is limited. They may think that death is reversible, and their main reactions to death may be that their daily routine and care are altered. The adult whom they have lost, or who is also grieving, will be either absent or unable to care for the child in the accustomed manner. At this age, reactions are often regressive, exhibiting themselves in eating, sleeping, or toileting disruptions. Children this age need reassurance and consistency. Try to maintain regular routines and to be comforting, giving hugs and kisses and lots of gentle touches. Keep the discussions of death short, but keep interactions with the child frequent. Even if you feel like the baby or young child cannot understand your words, they will understand your interest in their feelings and your wish to console them. Keep talking – it will help you to get used to the discussions that will become longer and more detailed as the child gets older, and it will help you to figure out what to say.

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Why You Should Talk to Your Kids About Death

By Sarina Behar Natkin, LICSW, www.growparenting.com, reprinted with permission

As a parent educator, I rarely use the word “should.” As a matter of fact, I cringe at the idea of giving parents one more SHOULD, almost as much as many parents cringe at the idea of talking to their kids about death.sarina natkin

But after a spate of violence and random death in Seattle, I realized how few parents discuss the topic of death with their children before they are forced to. This is where the SHOULD comes in. We should talk to them because it will help our children and us move through the pain of loss just a little bit easier. For those of us who have lost loved ones, even the tiniest bit easier is worth it.

Many parents say they don’t talk to their kids about the concept of death because they don’t know what to say. While that may be true, I suspect that belief is coming from the idea that we don’t want to scare our children or worry them. But we do our children a disservice if we let those hard emotions stop us from sharing something that is as much a part of life as life itself.

Imagine your child’s first day of school. What if, because you didn’t want them to feel scared or worried, you avoided the word “school” for years? What happens when the first day of school arrives? How might that first drop-off feel for them? For you? My guess is with no framework or understanding of where they are and what they are doing there, our kids might feel pretty scared, alone, and quite anxious.

Of course we don’t do this! Many parents spend a great deal of time carefully preparing their child for school. It’s not usually a sit-down formal conversation about the history and theory of elementary education. It’s many small moments throughout early childhood that help them build a mental model for this concept of school. Those mental models are what help decrease fear and anxiety, and more importantly, normalize a part of life for most Americans. Continue reading

Ten Tips for Raising a More Peaceful Child

By Bill Corbett, author of Love, Limits & Lessons, www.cooperativekids.com

The General Assembly of the United Nations declared September 21st as the International Day of Peace. Since the first year of celebration, many schools around the country have used that commemoration to influence children on the importance of world peace. So this past September 21st, I took a film crew with me to an amazing Montessori school deep in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, to see what they were doing.

Meagan Ledendecker, the school’s director of education, asked each of the classes to create a project that would represent their own celebration of world peace. I thought this was an awesome day at the school and featured Meagan and some of the school projects on my television show. You can watch the clip on my website.

Everything I teach in my parenting program and all that I feature on my television show are dedicated to increasing the peacefulness in families and classrooms. If we hope to have less war and conflict in the future, and more love and compassion for one another, then it’s up to us to cultivate that in our children, who will be responsible for carrying out the plan. Here are ten things any parent or guardian can begin doing immediately to raise more peaceful children.

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