Yesterday, Mama OT welcomed its first guest writer, Connor McClenahan. In his initial post, Connor explained why parent-child attachment “is arguably the most important task of parenting”, and how you can facilitate this attachment by “attuning” to your child’s needs and emotions. If you have not yet read Connor’s first post, STOP what you’re doing and READ it. Right now. You’ll be glad you did. (Read here).
In this next post, Connor presents two simple activities you can practice with your child and explains the skills he or she will develop as a result. These “drills” are meant to help you develop your ability to attune to your child which, as mentioned yesterday, is an important contributor to the development of attachment. So without further ado…
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1) The Dance of Engagement
With baby: You’ll notice when you’re engaging with your baby that there are moments when she turns away. Let her turn away and don’t try to grab her attention. Wait for her to turn back to you, then welcome her with a smile. She’ll do this often as a way to self-regulate (to not get too overwhelmed by excitement).
With toddler: The same thing applies when your child starts to crawl. When she crawls away, be ready for her to turn her head to see if you’re still there – then welcome her with a smile!
Relational skill developed: “I don’t have to pull away from relationships or constantly engage – others are not demanding, nor neglecting. They let me be who I am.”
Self-skill developed: “I can do things on my own! I can be by myself and I can enter relationships without being anxious about anyone’s agenda for me.”
2) Follow The Child’s Lead
With baby: When baby is engaged with you, simply copy all facial expressions and sounds he makes as he does them! [Editor's note: Imitating baby's expressions and sounds is helpful not only for facilitating attachment, but also for developing his language and communication skills. What a deal!]
With toddler: When you are playing with him, follow his lead. Act as an assistant and promoter to his ideas and imagination, not yours! Do what he wants to do. Find enjoyment in his imagination!
Relational skill developed: “I am not eclipsed or neglected by others. Being intimate with another person is good and fun – life is better when shared with another.”
Self-skill developed: “My thoughts and my ideas are good and important! I am valuable, and the things I do are valuable”.
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Connor McClenahan is a graduate student in clinical psychology at Fuller School of Psychology in Pasadena, CA. He lives in Montrose with his wife, Sherianne, and his 3-month-old son, Aidan. His favorite occupations include cycling, spending time outdoors, and helping with his wife’s awesome youth group.
For more information on attachment parenting, please visit http://attachmentparenting.org.