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Attachment Parenting and Discipline

Updated on May 1, 2007

One of Dr. Sears eight ideals of Attachment Parenting is Positive Discipline. Whether or not you agree with all the aspects of Attachment Parenting, you may be interested in learning more about positive discipline.

The idea is to create boundaries and limits for the child without placing unrealistic expectations. Parents need to take into account the developmental stage of the child before holding him to standards he is physically, emotionally, or mentally incapable of achieving. When you set the bar too high, you are just setting yourself and your child up for failure.

Trusting Children

Attachment Parenting theory advises parents to trust children. The child must both feel free to communicate his needs and believe those needs will be met. It starts in infancy. Parents must respond to the baby's cries and other demands promptly because infants are not capable of outright manipulation. All their wants are needs. This may seem obvious, but extend that idea out into older childhood. Is your child really trying to drive you insane with that incessant tapping of the spoon on the table? Or is she lacking in sound stimulation?

Respecting Children

Parents need to view children as human beings just as deserving of respect as adults. This doesn't mean you need to cater to a child, but don't treat them condescendingly either. Parents need to realize that a child is doing his best in a given circumstance at a given point in time. He is only as smart as his experience has taught him so far.

Children should be looked upon as innocent and loving, not wild animals that must be tamed. (Although they may act like this at times.) Proponents of positive discipline hold that it's not a parent's job to give life lessons because life will provide plenty without our help. We are here to support the child in his journey of learning - often that will include learning about what happens when he sticks his finger in a light socket.

Our children are here to teach us just as much as we are here to support and nurture them.

When Children Misbehave

Parents should look upon misbehavior in the context of what's going on in the situation, in the child's life. Attachment Parenting is big on the idea that a parent's main job is to respond to a child. That means we are supposed to respond to the child's behavior in a way that is helpful to her growth and development rather than expecting her to respond to our wish for a perfectly behaved child.

Instead of punishing, Attachment Parenting would have you rationally discuss behavior with children. Proponents take the stand that punishment sends the message to the child that we expect perfect behavior, which is of course impossible - even for parents (which is something you may want to remind yourself of if you're trying to positively discipline your child and you accidentally thwack her on the hiney with a wooden spoon instead.)

Try putting yourself in your child's shoes. Take a breath and think before you speak.

Beware the Spoiled Brat

All this positive discipline is supposed to give the child a happy-go-lucky childhood and the wisdom to grow into a nicely adjusted adult who doesn't have the need to resolve childhood hurts. But beware. This is not always the way the world works. As parents part of our job in being not only to shelter and support our children, but to prepare them in a very real way for the real world. In life people get upset, short-tempered, and they fire you if you don't follow the rules. Will children who are never punished be ready to face the disappointments of a low SAT score or no date for the prom? There are consequences in life and we need to teach our kids about them one way or another.

Choose your parenting theories wisely, then administer with a grain of salt. Above all, trust your instincts - you have them for a reason!


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  • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

    Ruchi Urvashi 6 years ago from Singapore

    Yes, I agree with the writing. When there is a problem, we need to discuss with the child instead of giving punishment. Good one.

  • L.I.N.C profile image

    L.I.N.C 6 years ago from Montreal, Canada

    There is a new and revolutionary ATTACHMENT PARENTING theory quickly gaining international acclaim. HOLD ON TO YOUR KIDS by Dr.GORDON NEULFELD (Canadian psychologist) is a book I highly recommend. Dr. Neufeld is being sought after in the European Community, Mexico, Israel,etc. What I like is that his theory closely examines the impact our relationship has on the growth and development of our children. The topic is huge and beyond beginning to embrace in a HUB comment section, but please know it takes us w-a-y past Dr.SEAR'S work that peters out around ages 12/13. It is work that enlightens us to the reality that our work is not done until maturity does us part with our kids.

  • birthowl profile image

    birthowl 7 years ago

    Hi Lela, thanks for writing this hub. Attachment parenting means giving your love to your child. And a child raised in love will communicate and listen to its parents. Rules and regulations can be there but not without that deep love and trust. Another important aspect of attachment parenting starts with the first day of life: babywearing is very important for the future development of the child. Read more here:

  • Write at Home profile image

    Write at Home 8 years ago

    Great hub! We need more good hubs on the topic of attachment parenting.

  • cindyvine profile image

    Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

    Definitely a better researched hub than the other one on the same subject!

  • dr c profile image

    dr c 8 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area


    I liked your hub, but attachment parenting doesn't mean no discipline or consequences, just more natural one, those that would occur in the real world.

    Attachment parenting, while encouraging attention to the child's needs also advocates structure and behavior management through positive discipline - rewarding good behavior, in an effort to encourage the child to repeat the positive behavior.

    Thanks for an interesting read.