Parents of attached children from relatively smooth beginnings parent with the end in mind. From the moment of birth parents are teaching their child how to grow up to become competent, confident and responsible adults. Of course there is some playing around in between, but most of the parental engagement is designed to make the children (age appropriately) more and more responsible for their own lives.
Our children from difficult beginnings are often traumatized and forced by biology into thinking, believing, and acting as though they are on their own to survive. When all of a child’s efforts are focused on survival, s/he misses out on very basic parts of being a happy human being–things like play, pleasure, joy, delight, and carefree doddling. (Yes, they all definitely know how to doddle, but it isn’t carefree.)
Parenting for these kinds of children is all about helping them be “children.” This doesn’t mean they don’t have to learn to be responsible adults. It means they have to learn to be children first.
I know you are scared that encouraging your child to be a child will perpetually stunt an already delayed developmental process. After all, aren’t our children the most disorganized, unconcerned, selfish, irresponsible, illogical, childish people you have ever met? (I can’t tell you how many adoptive parents introduce their child to me as “28 going on 2-years old.”) So, yes and no. Our children are equally filled with huge levels of fear, anxiety, hypervigilance, control, panic, and dysregulation?
Attachment challenged children need the opposite of traditional parenting first. Teach them to play by playing with them–a lot. Withhold the constant nagging, teaching, training, and consequencing for their lack of follow through, lack of organization, lack of concern, lack of responsibility taking. Let your child off the adult hook until play comes easily, pleasure abounds, and joy is abundant. Once this occurs, it will be much easier to help them become happy, responsible adults.
The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
Next Trust-based Parent Course is planned for March 28th and April 4th. Save the date.
Please share freely. Your community of support can sign-up for their own Daily YOU Time email by clickinghere.
The Attach Place/Neurofeedback Solutions is an active supporter of The Wounded Warrior Project. We give free neurofeedback treatment to veterans. If you know someone in the Sacramento area who is suffering from the effects of war, we are here to help one soldier at a time.