Attachment Theory And How To Apply It

Thank you to all the mamas who joined us for our free talk 'Parenting From The Heart talk - Attachment Theory And How To Apply It' in November.
Extra BIG THANK YOU to the lovely Ruth Sugden for your very informative and entertaining talk. Your words of wisdom and encouragement for our motherhood journey were warmly welcomed. 

It was great to learn more about Attachment Theory and how it can be applied in our parenting. Personally, understanding the different attachment styles and how attachment develops in a childs' formative years has, without doubt,  deepened and enriched my own mothering experience and I hope it will with your too.

Ruth discussed the benefits of Secure Attachment and how it can be cultivated in those critical first years of parenting. In Secure Attachment the mother sensitively attunes to her baby's needs and provides a safe haven and secure base from which the new baby can explore his or her world and develop independence.

As Ruth explained, there are three primary things a baby can learn from secure attachment. She learns;
1. Am I loveable
2. Are other people loveable
3. How To Self Regulate

At the end of the talk we invited all the mums to reflect on what their key take-aways were and how they might do things differently in their parenting.
In summary, here's what was shared;

The importance of regulating the regulator! 
This is can be a tough one! All's fine when your baby's calm and content. But, what about those times when you've had yet another night of missed sleep, you're hungry and you feel like you have just one last nerve and, yep,  your baby is on it! We've all had times like these! Times were we lose it, dissolving into a heap of tears or screaming at our partner! Regulating the regulator is key to secure attachment. Learning to self-soothe is arguably the single most important thing you can do for yourself and your growing child.
Just like the flight attendant reminds us to 'pull down your own oxygen mask first before attending to children or other passengers.' we have to take care of ourselves first. If you're finding yourself frequently overwhelmed, stressed or reacting to your baby it is important to take a step back and assess what you're really needing in the situation. Maybe, you need to negotiate more time to rest or perhaps, it's simply to pause and take a few slow deep breaths to centre yourself. 

Mindfulness can be so helpful in the early years of motherhood. So much of what we do is driven by our subconscious beliefs and thoughts and our attachment to the way we think things 'should' be rather than how they actually are. Mindfulness is different. It interrupts the momentum of the those whirling habitual thoughts and invites us to be with things just as they are, however they are.  With mindfulness awareness over time we are better able to choose our responses rather than reflexively reacting or over-reacting. 
* You might like to know that  we will be introducing a new Mindfulness For Mothers Meditation course in the new year. Please drop us a line to register your interest.

The importance of eye contact.
Your baby's vision develops slowly over the first six months of life. At first it is blurry and by about 6 weeks she will begin to perceive objects. There's evidence that if something is within arm's length (around 30 cm) of a newborn's face, she can make it out pretty well. In fact, your baby is  particularly interested in human faces, especially yours. It's through your face and especially through your eyes that your baby learns about the world around her. Through these 'attention seeking eye exchanges' your baby will learn whether the world is safe and friendly. This eye contact is crucial for your baby's neuronal growth and development.

The importance of following your baby's lead.
Follow your baby's lead whenever you can. Like adults, babies need down time too. So long as your baby can reference you in the physical environment allow her to have time alone; taking charge only when necessary.

The importance of keeping your baby calm
The role of the mother (or primary care-giver) in the first year of life is to keep the baby calm. Through you, your baby will have the very first instructions on how to remain calm and self soothe. While attachment style is highly predictive of mental and even physical health and wellbeing across the lifespan it is also malleable. Your baby's attachment is still developing and will continue to develop during her formative years. Just by bringing mindful awareness to your mothering you will enhance your baby's likelihood of developing a secure attachment for life. And, what a wonderful gift that is!

Fiona BalesComment