I never appreciated what my parents sacrificed for me as a child, and I was often rude and ungrateful. They did their best to show me unconditional love even when I couldn’t understand why they needed to ask so many questions or why they demanded housework.
Through attachment parenting principles, I have come to learn that my mother’s constant questions were an attempt to get to know who I was and that the housework she assigned was a way of teaching me responsibility. I took it upon myself to research and find out what other parenting methods had been in use by our ancestors, at the same time, trying my best to learn new discipline strategies. I discovered many things about parenting through all of this, some of which completely contradicted what I grew up believing.
My favorite new principle is the idea of “No Touch Stress Release.” It is a way to help children cope with the stress of being told no. By allowing your child to scream and hit themselves in a designated place, they learn that pain is not the only emotion they feel when they don’t get what they want. The principle also teaches that hurting someone else is wrong.
Even as an adult, I have used this method of coping with stress. I can remember several instances where I chewed my nails down to the flesh because of an argument or stressful situation in my life. I wouldn’t say I liked the way my hands looked, but I couldn’t stop biting them. When I was reminded of my childhood, I decided to try the self-hitting method. Even though it sounds cruel to some people, it gave me a sense of relief and has since replaced biting as my stress release.
Parents who are new to attachment parenting are often frustrated when their children don’t want to be held or give up at the first sign of resistance. They may be tired of enforcing the rules and feel like they are going crazy. When in the midst of all this, it’s easy to forget that attached babies self-soothe and that it is our job as parents to teach them this ability.
A child without self-soothing skills needs a lot more from their parent than someone else’s child. They will often cry until they are worn out by stress, exhaustion, or pain. When the parent doesn’t understand the cause of the child’s distress, they will ignore it and assume that their child is simply crying to get their attention.
As I did as a child, I learned to give up on my daughter when she cried for more than ten minutes at once. In her defense, my daughter is an active three-year-old. If she goes for a walk and gets tired, she might stop and sit down. If she gets hungry, she might stop and eat. If she is in pain, she may stop and cry. When another child was experiencing the same type of challenge, I would often be more attentive to it than to hers.
Indeed, being a responsible parent is one of the essential responsibilities in life. We want to be fair to our children, but there’s no way to know how they respond to a situation. As a parent, it is our job to love them and try our best without making any assumptions or expecting them to love us back automatically.