Connected parenting is a label for a family of parenting approaches that emphasizes the primacy of a child having secure attachment to their primary caregivers. Secure attachments are built upon a foundation of safe, deeply connected, and trusted relationships. A child with a secure attachment knows that there exists at least one person who believes that they are precious, knows that they have a voice to negotiate their needs, and is confident that their needs will be met by their caregivers.
Attachment is the foundation of child development, and it is upon this foundation that every child develops independence, maturity, and empathy for others. The relationship skills learned though attachments to caregivers set the pattern for all future relationships. It is through attachment that parents derive their power to parent their children. When attachment is interrupted, development is interrupted.
When children misbehave, they are communicating through their actions that something is not right in their world. An infant is completely dependent on their caregivers for survival. When they are calm and content, they smile, giggle, and coo. But as soon as they become hungry, tired, cold, or soiled, they squall and fuss. With an infant, our expectations lead us to the proper conclusions, and we meet the child’s needs.
As children get older, we somehow lose sight of this basic fact of child behavior, and expect that children will communicate their needs with clear and respectful words. When they squall and fuss instead, we label them and naughty, selfish, or even defiant, and oppositional. Somewhere along the way, we lose our ability to see that our children are not bad kids – they are feeling fear, shame, frustration, or some other emotion they do not know how to handle. Or they are hungry, dehydrated, tired, or stressed. Expecting a child in this state to be capable of regulating their behavior makes as much sense and expecting a diabetic to be capable of regulating their blood sugar with an effort of will.
Your child needs caregivers who see their deep needs and meet them, give them voice, and believe with all their heart that they are infinitely precious, even in the midst of the hardest of the hard stuff. If you are ready to be your child’s ally instead of their adversary, click here to Get Started.
For a more detailed overview of the Connected Parenting approach used by Seen and Heard, please see this blog post.