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Attachment Parenting International promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. For life. So they can take those bonds with them into their adult lives and share them with their children. And their children can do the same. A life cycle of compassion and connection.

heart-pain-shadowIn this week’s Editor’s Pick, we are featuring resources from the National Association of School Psychologists that offer guidelines for dealing with the difficult subject of children and violence — in particular, war and terrorism.

In recent years, increasingly, there have been numerous heartbreaking mass shootings and terror activities in the United States and around the globe.

In the aftermath of such distressing incidents, many parents are wondering how to react: How much information? What and how should we communicate to our kids? And as we reflect on such painful incidents and move towards healing, another imperative question we need to ask ourselves is, What role do we play, as parents to children who will become the adults of tomorrow?

With ongoing wars, mass shootings and terrorist threats, it can be challenging to escape the display of violence from the extensive media and internet coverage — it’s a heavy dose for children to bear. While we should do our best to limit our kids’ exposure to violence, we should also acknowledge that this is the reality of the world we live in, and we need to navigate around helping children find comfort and provide them with the support they need. It is our responsibility as parents and caregivers to address our children’s emotional needs — to that end, they need us to help them understand and cope with the phenomenon of violence.

It’s unrealistic to think that we can completely shield our kids from being exposed to incidents, such as the recent one in Orlando. Albeit, as parents, we can foster a secure environment in our homes for our children to be resilient in the face of tragedies. Attachment Parenting International promotes a secure emotional bond in the parent-child relationship — cultivating trust, a sense of security, social competence, confidence, and empathetic qualities in a child…all of which are beneficial when experiencing adversities.

Open communication, honesty, and trust between a parent and a child are essential ingredients for developing a strong relationship — one that is valuable when dealing with sensitive, emotional-trigger situations. This guide explores tips for parents and educators to help children cope with terrorism.

Naturally, children may feel angry and frightened in their reaction to acts of violence. To help them work through emotionally charged issues in a positive way, is it helpful to teach them compassion, empathy, and kindness in our homes and our schools.

The following are some helpful tips to consider in promoting compassion and acceptance in crisis:

  1. Model compassion and acceptance of differences — Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives.
  2. Provide useful information — Accurate information about people, events, reactions, and feelings is empowering. Use language that is developmentally appropriate for children.
  3. Stop any type of harassment or bullying immediately — Make it clear that such behavior, in any form (in person, online, social media) is unacceptable. Talk to the children involved about the reasons for their behavior.
  4. Explore children’s fears — Even children who can describe what happened may not be able to express fears, questions, or describe assumptions or conclusions they may have made. Use activities, role-playing, and discussions to explore their fears about the events and their feelings about various groups from diverse cultures or lifestyles.
  5. Identify “heroes” of varying backgrounds involved in response to traumatic events — These include firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, military personnel, public officials, medical workers, teachers, faith leaders, public figures, and regular citizens who work to help keep students, families, schools, and communities safe.
  6. Read books with your children or students that address prejudice and hate — There are many, many stories appropriate for varying age groups that can help children think about and define their feelings regarding these issues.

Parents are their children’s first and most empowering role models. Meeting our children’s needs by nurturing them with sensitivity, kindness, and compassion serves as a model for children to observe and learn how to conduct themselves in this world. We are making the most precious investment there could be: As today’s children will become tomorrow’s adults, a life cycle of compassion and connection will pave the way for a more peaceful, compassionate world for future generations.

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Being a Daddy

by Teja McDaniel on June 21, 2016

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Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes you have enjoyed APtly Said’s celebration of fathers this week. This final post wraps up this series on “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections,” June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us!

TejaI always wanted to be a Daddy…I just never knew how much it would change me.

Naturally, most parents think their child is beautiful, and even with a little mushed face and purple foot, I felt the same. I was especially proud of the fact that while my son laid under a heating lamp in the hospital, he looked more developed than the other babies.

I called the first year of parenthood the most rewarding “punishment” I ever went through. Not that I would have changed it for the world, but I believe most parents would understand what I mean.

Strangely enough, nature has a way of making us endure some form of amnesia. After two years and 10 months, I found myself being a glutton for “punishment” again. Sure, why not? I hardly remembered the endless sleepless nights from my previous go-around. Then again, my memories since first becoming a parent are a patchwork of fragments, mostly focused on the glee of being a parent.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but suddenly I learned a new fear I will never lose till I am gone — in that moment, I knew I would always wish for the best and fear the worst for this individual indefinitely.

Dad HayIt seems like in a flash, my world that I had grown up in was no longer predominantly focused on me. My focus was now this baby.

My mind raced with questions…

I was overjoyed to be a Daddy. I cried at the sight of him. But I wondered How do you immediately love someone or something that you have no history with?  and Should I feel guilty that here was this new creature that I loved, yet didn’t really communicate with beyond its needs? I wondered who he would be.

At the same time, I found myself watching every breath while he slept and I would peer into the crib if it seemed too silent. I was beyond gentle as if this new entity was in fact an ancient artifact as fragile as parchment.

Could I be a good Daddy?

Two months after his birth, I was making some sounds and he looked at me and smiled. In that moment of connection, my heart melted. But this did not stop my internal thoughts, nor my imagination thinking of hypotheticals. I wanted to be an affectionate Daddy, but was there such thing as too much affection? Should Mommy be more affectionate than Daddy? I decided to throw caution to the wind, as I felt that my child should grow up knowing he was deeply loved through action and not just words of affection.

There are parents who try to essentially have their children be what they did not become or be just like them. I believe that is confining. More and more, I find the true gift we can give our children growing up as a parent is to allow them to discover their own path and support their positive choices.

I’ve learned that I am not perfect and that I will make mistakes, but I am patient. I’m willing to learn as I go, as much as I hope my teaching sinks in. I know teaching isn’t just preaching, but that setting an example and following through with my word carries more impact. The greatest gifts I can give my 2 boys are love, guidance, affection, and my attentive time. The gift has been given both ways as I’ve gained a greater happiness with myself.

Despite all the trials or tribulations we endure, being a parent can be so fulfilling. The first step is accepting ourselves and loving ourselves as the imperfect individuals we are — share that with your children. In this way, we will not seek the material things in life to find happiness, as we already have it in our hearts.

Being a parent has made me so happy and whole. I have become more forgiving, more accepting, more insightful, and above all, more loving. In all of the things I’ve done and accomplished, my family is my greatest creation and treasure — it is the one I am most proud of.

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Transformation of being a father

June 20, 2016
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Editor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) continues with APtly Said’s celebration of fathers through the theme of “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections,” June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives — you inspire us! Sometimes I start thinking about the man I used to be before […]

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How has being a dad changed me?

June 19, 2016
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Editor’s note: Welcome to Attachment Parenting International‘s celebration of fathers! For this Father’s Day, APtly Said Assistant Editor Effie Morchi has put together a moving series of essays with the theme of “Fathers’ Inspiring Reflections” for June 19-21. We value and honor you, Dads, for all your love, dedication, and involvement in your children’s lives […]

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4 ideas for gentle weaning

June 15, 2016
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I often hear of the struggles mothers face when trying to nurse a baby in those first few weeks. For me, that has not been the case. Although both of my sons nursed differently, neither had difficulty nursing. My experience is the opposite. My struggle comes at the end of the nursing relationship rather than […]

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A fire in my heart

June 8, 2016
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I came upon Attachment Parenting by accident. While 8 months pregnant, I searched the Internet for ideas on how to clean cloth diapers by hand. Yes, you read correctly — by hand. We had no washer or dryer and felt too cheap to pay the 75 cents required to wash them. During my search, I […]

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Screens are powerful — but dangerous — attachment tools

June 3, 2016
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It used to be the television. Back in the 1980s, Neil Postman, professor of communication arts and sciences from New York University, said that television is a disastrous influence on children because it shortens their attention span, erodes their linguistic powers and causes them to become increasingly impatient. Perhaps even more serious, it opens up […]

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Infant sleep safety guidelines for bedsharing

May 31, 2016
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Many parents bedshare, all around the world. Attachment Parenting International (API) recognizes this, as well as the benefits that bedsharing brings to families. API educates and supports parents in ensuring safe sleep — both emotionally and physically — for their infants and children. This is why API — in consultation with Dr. James McKenna, Dr. […]

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