Saturday, 23 June 2012

Shaming children is shameful isn't it?

What purpose does making a child feel ashamed of something they have done serve?
I suspect that the hope is that whilst in that state of shame they will self-reflect and re-examine their misdemeanour and will not do it again and will contritely apologise to all concerned.  It may be also that there is some 'pay off' for the 'shamer' who feels justified in seeing the child brought back 'into line' and looking as if they regret what they did, It can feel kind of powerful to bring out such a reaction in another human being.

Shame is that mind-numbing sensation of utter misery and embarrassment which gnaws at the pit of the stomach and can obliterate any other thoughts or feelings and reduce us to head hanging, shuffling, mumbling, self punishing, long after the incident, shells of ourselves.  Useful life lesson?

Don't be fooled either by the child who shows no shame for something they have been pulled up on, they may have had to learn a different way to behave as showing their shame could be dangerous for them, or they just may plain not understand what they have done and why it is shameful to another.
There has even been research now which shows that dogs feel shame! Anyone who has witnessed them slinking away head and tail down would confirm this!

The ability to feel shame can be a huge, weighty burden we drag with us through life, it can cause us to drink heavily, take drugs, live a risk-taking dangerous life, self harm, starve ourselves, over eat and get into abusive relationships as we don't deserve any better as we are so shameful and these all serve as distractions from those feelings. Once used to feeling shame, it is easy to fall into that trap about everything, to analyse every conversation or interaction and to be self-critical and then feel ashamed for saying or doing the wrong thing.  Not a healthy way to live though and a great 'stealer' of your time and enjoyment of life, so why would you give that to your child?

So, how we do make our children feel shame, aren't we just bringing them up properly so they know right from wrong?  When we, tell a child off  they feel shame, when we point out something they have not done to our standards, they feel shame, when we send them to the naughty step, time out zone, calm down cushion, they feel shame, when we tell others what they have done, they feel shame, when we share something they have confided in us as a 'story' to our friends, they feel shame, as soon as we catch them doing something they know they should not be doing they feel shame!  Even if they don't show you their shame, as life may have taught them not too, or they continue with the unwanted behaviour, or completely lose it, they are still feeling ashamed.

For some children, once they feel they have got it wrong and are feeling ashamed then 'all bets will be off'.  They are a terrible, scum of the earth human being, they tell themselves so they may as well give into and act out all of the pain this is causing in them as it is too much to keep inside and they could not feel much worse anyway.  This is often the way of children who have lived through abuse of any kind, or they internalised their shame, often coming out as self harm at some point.

So, what is the alternative and why consider it?  Surely feeling shame is part of growing up?
Why does it have to be as it is such a useless, crippling feeling to tap into and does not inspire and motivate anyone for long and can make you ill and vulnerable.  If a child, or of course young person, does something which is not alright then this is an opportunity to look at it with them in a non-blaming, shaming way.  They may have acted on impulse, not thought things through, forgotten, not known it wasn't acceptable behaviour, been in a rush, having a bad day, made a mistake, the list goes on and is all part of their 'Job Description'.

How would you talk to your friend if they wrote on the bathroom wall?  Would you start of by yelling at them?  What would you say to your friend if they forgot something?  Would you deliver a long lecture on how forgetful they are and how you always have to remember everything etc.  What would you say to a friend who had not been able to wait for a turn with something and snatched it?  My message is a simple one, ditch the whole idea of teaching children by making them feel ashamed and sorry for what they have done because when they are in the 'zone of shame' their brain will not be focusing on how to become a model child for the rest of the day but on how bad they are and feel now.

Of course children have to learn about life and how to interact and behave but this can be done with kindness and patience, not shame.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Don't keep telling me I'm angry

When working with families who have complex needs, especially experience of domestic violence and abuse, I am often told by the parent, family, friends, teachers, social workers and sometimes the child, that they are 'angry'.  This is used as a blanket term to describe their general behaviour which may consist of screaming, breaking things, swearing, shouting, threatening, hurting others, hurting themselves, storming off and throwing things. 

Well, you may be thinking, that does sound pretty angry behaviour so what's the problem?  Telling a child they are angry, especially those who have lived around domestic violence and abuse is never helpful.  It gives the child a label, they become known as that 'angry child' and even worse come to know themselves as angry.  Labels are never helpful as they restrict and define and that is the last thing a child needs to carry through life with them.  Their experiences of domestic violence and abuse have already served to restrict and define them so they don't need anything else.

I encourage everyone involved with the child to ditch the word angry from their vocabulary and to look beyond the presenting behaviours.  Children who have lived in unpredictable and frightening conditions will have been shaped by these and will have adapted behaviours to cope but will not have developed an ability to understand their own and others emotions, they certainly won't be able to talk about them but will know they are 'angry' as they have heard it so often.

The most important thing is to encourage a child to think is that maybe they kicked the door because they were feeling frustrated, confused, annoyed, jealous or just had too many feelings going on at that moment.  Being clear that it's not OK to kick things but working out what led up to it in terms of feelings can help avoid it some time in the future.  When someone takes our parking space on a rainy day and we have to park miles away from the shop and will get soaked now we don't just have just one feeling about this.  Most likely we do feel some rage, upset, frustrated, hurt, depressed etc., if we win the lottery we will maybe feel happy, overwhelmed, excited, scared, confused etc. so never just one feeling.

Broadening a child's emotional vocabulary is essential, especially as those who live through trauma, generally have a very limited pool of emotions they can identify and talk about so that is our number one task, always.  If we keep telling a child they are 'angry' then that is what they will be, perpetrators of violence say they act because they are 'angry' or were made angry by someone or something so then it is not their fault.  Anger is an emotion like any other and it is important to explore it with children as no emotions last but it must not define a child as they may then grow into an 'angry' adult and this can become the excuse for hurting others and we all know where that leads.

Children do not need to be defined by their behaviour, ever.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Why is being able to learn in school a bridge too far for traumatised children?

So you've just walked into school having left your Mum who has just received a threatening text from your abusive Dad, your foster Dad is having to go home and discover you've graffitied the bedroom wall again, your Mum who is going to Salisbury's to buy her morning cider, your Step-Dad knowing that he has threatened to "make you pay later". 

You are 6 years old and have just moved into a refuge and had to leave all your toys, your pet rabbit Bunny and most of your clothes behind and Dad,  He was scary mostly but sometimes he was nice to you so you are not sure how you feel and you want to know Bunny is being fed and cuddled. 

You are 14 years old and thought getting your own home at last and being away from Mum's abusive ex would mean that life would be sweet.  Instead, you and Mum argue all the time, you're at a new school, you keep 'flipping out' and the teachers don't seem to like you and you've got no friends.

Now you are in the classroom and the teacher wants you to sit down, listen and get your book and pencil out.  You can't stop thinking about Mum, Dad, your Step-Dad, Bunny, your foster carers, will I be in trouble, is Dad going to find me here, is Mum going to be safe while I'm not there, will Mum be cross with me, drunk, or stressed when she picks me up.  Will my Step-Dad 'get me later', what's that noise outside, whose that in the play ground, did Miss just say my name, am I in trouble, did he just look at me funny, where's my lunch money, is Mum OK, is Bunny missing me.

Oh no I don't understand what Miss is saying, I wasn't listening, what's that noise outside, I don't think Miss likes me to day, did I upset her, well I don't like her neither.  I can't do this work, I'm going to get it wrong 'cos I'm stupid, Dad always said I was and Mum never stopped him, why not?  Oh no I didn't hear what Miss said, she looks angry with me, now I'm in trouble, don't care, I hate them, they hate me just want to go home.

Why am I in trouble again?  What happened, Miss says I threw my book at Jake, he was looking at me funny though but don't remember throwing it.  Now Miss won't like me, it's cold out here, I wonder when I can go back to class, will I miss break time.  Its my fault, I'm trouble and stupid.  Everyone says, that's why I can't do my work.  What's that noise, did Mum say she would be late getting me today, what if she doesn't come?  It's all my fault, Dad got mad 'cos I was bad, Mum says she needs a drink 'cos I'm a nightmare and she's stressed, will my foster Dad send me away this time like all the others?

A small insight into what a child who has to live through domestic violence and abuse, in the care system, with an alcohol dependent parent, with an abuser goes through all day long and that, along with the way in which their brain is wired and functioning, and with learnt 'survival' behaviours is what they and teaching staff are up against every day.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Why Contact Arrangements and Domestic Violence can be Lethal

'Contact plans for separating parents are unveiled' - Children's rights to maintain contact with both parents following separation or divorce are to be strengthened under government proposals.

Under the plans, family courts in England and Wales must assume the child's welfare is best served by remaining involved with both parents

That last sentence sends a chill through my heart in terms of families who have lived through and escaped domestic violence and abuse (DVA). 

Why?  Because it  already seems that the system does not prioritise the needs and safety of the children and that proving they are at risk from continued contact with their abusive father is an uphill battle.  The NSPCC quotes the following from Bristol Women's Aid,

Between 1994 and 2004, 29 children in 13 families were killed during contact (or in one case residence) arrangements in England and Wales. Ten of these children were killed in the last two years.Saunders, H. (2004) 29 child homicides: lessons still to be learnt on domestic violence and child protection. Bristol: Women’s Aid Federation of England (WAFE).

What we also know is that abusive men use child contact visits and hearings as a way to gain access to the woman who has dared to leave them and to be able to continue to abuse them and the children.  So many women told me that their ex-partner had shown no interest at all in children during their relationship but now was fighting to see them. 

When families try to, or succeed, in fleeing the abuser that is the most dangerous time in terms of them being harmed and killed, just take a look in the daily papers, although you will have to look hard though as they don't highlight this.  This is when the abusers are most desperate and often see child contact as a way to get some control back and keep the woman tied to them so they can still control and abuse them, or worse carry out their long held threat to kill them.

I have supported so many women who bravely turn up at court hearings which go on over a period of YEARS, they face their abuser, endure smirks, looks and even overt threats to try to keep their children safe.  The saddest thing is a legal system which means a woman has to be able to prove a) that the abuse took place and b) that she and the children were affected by it and c) that they remain at risk. 

When much of the abuse the woman and children experience is mental and emotional it is hard to prove, when physical assaults and rapes have not been reported they are hard to prove retrospectively.   Psychiatric assessments are often undertaken but these are brief and are not able to fully take into account the effects the DVA may have had on the woman or child's mental health over the years as it has yet to be proven in the court arena.

I saw so many families who had fled the abuse, been through the difficulties of homelessness and communal refuge life only to then spend years being re-traumatised by regular court hearings, exposure to the abuser and his family and friends and not able to start the work of leaving the abuse behind.  The children either knew there was another hearing, or sensed it, and would experience anxieties and fear about what it could mean and this often affected their behaviour, eating, sleeping, bed wetting, soiling and ability to concentrate at school.  Imagine knowing that today your Mum has to go on her own and see the man who hurt you all so badly, will she be safe, will she come back, will the Judge decide you do have to start seeing him?

The proposed change in the law will play into the hands of clever legal professionals fighting on behalf of abusive fathers as it strenghtens the case for them have contact.  Children and women will be put at greater risk of harm and re-traumatisation and reduced  capacity for Legal Aid and the capacity of the Children & Family Courts Advisory & Support Service (CAFCASS) will only make matters worse.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Chilkdren who control.

A child who has lived through a period of their life where difficult and frightening things have happened to them and around them may often present as 'controlling'.  Countless parents I have worked with will tell me about how controlling one of their children is and how they are struggling with this, especially as the child gets older.  They often liken their behaviour to the ex-abusive partner telling me they can see similarities in their behaviour and personality.  Likewise, I have been in many meetings where professionals have described the child concerned as difficult to teach or work with as they have to take over in games with their peers and in interactions with adults who are trying to help them.

So, are some children just bossy, do children who grow up around controlling adults just copy them, do some children just like to be in charge?

Children do learn about how to function in the World from watching key adults so if they are exposed to bossy and/or controlling behaviour this can rub off on them.  However, for children who are really controlling things are at a different level altogether,

I have seen and had reported to me children as young as three deciding who can sleep where, if some one is allowed to go into a room or to sit down, in a small child this may not be too alarming but as they get older and it becomes more ingrained it will be less 'cute' and lead to more conflict.  Such behaviour comes across as awkwardness and stubbornness and is hard to deal with day in day out.

The child who has to have their booster seat moved every time they get in the car, who what ever you offer them to eat wants something slightly different and will go to great pains to think of it even though you know you have offered her something she loves.  The child who tells you they don't like what you are wearing and you should change, or who will go out of their way to have the upper hand and dominate those around them.

Such behaviour can be exhausting, infuriating, off putting, alienating for those who are around the child and it can be harder to like or love a child if everything is on their terms and as this can lead to constantly trying to please them but for little return or, going head to head over everything, all of which is challenging and draining.

So why would a child behave like this as they must get a sense that it hurts, alienates and frustrates those around them?

If a child has grown up in a situation where life is chaotic and it changes all of the time, or there has been a point where everything was turned up side down and no-one helped them feel safe, then this can have an impact.  This can be as a result of being abused, living with domestic violence and abuse, being removed into the care system, dealing with carers who are 'unavailable' due to drug, alcohol or domestic violence, a sudden bereavement where the child's needs are not addressed, mental illness in carers or having to become a carer for dependent adults.

In these life circumstances taking control becomes a survival strategy which may keep the child, their siblings and the non-abusive parent safe.  It may mean that they get fed that day or keep the abuser 'happy' or at a distance or distracted.  Learning from an early age that the adults are not in control of themselves or anything else, and are unpredictable and don't regularly provide the basics may force a very young child to become self reliant and to learn to get in ahead of things so as to keep safe.  How hard is it for a three year old to have to learn to watch closely the adults they depend on to see how safe they can keep themselves today.

Being around carers who are alternatively loving, scary or scared will soon teach a child that they need to be in control as there is no-one else to help them and this is not something they can just switch off when they go to school or anywhere else as this becomes their template for life. 

Being sexually or physically abused will teach a child not to trust adults and/or to take control of when and how the abuse takes place to get it over with.  Children who feel they need to be in control 24/7 require time and consistent reassurance that adults will not let them down, do know what they are doing, are safe, will feed them, won't hurt them and do even like them.  Building this trust takes a long time as it is often changing a child's life long view of adults and the strategies they have been forced to develop to get themselves this far in their short life.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A child's perspective on living with abuse and trauma

A child's view and interpretation of living in a home where there is abuse and violence is a complex one as they are having to deal with a multitude of experiences, sensations and feelings without the ability to understand or process them. 

Children thrive best when life is essentially fairly predictable, they feel loved unconditionally and they have opportunities to learn, make mistakes and have fun.  In a home life where at any given time there can be physical violence, threats, shouting, intimidation, high levels of criticism and sarcasm, taunting, ridiculing, scapegoating, one scary parent and one scared parent then life becomes about survival.

If most days a child goes to bed sleeps uninterrupted by arguing, fighting, being torn from their bed to talk to Dad at 2 a.m., the Police coming round or having to get up and go to Nan's in the middle of the night then they will generally eventually develop a good sleep pattern and will wake refreshed to face the new day.

If most days a child has a parent to spend some time with them, check in that they are OK, be available if they are not, remember their lunch money, have a clean uniform for them and to generally make sure that life ticks along, then they are free to concentrate on being a child.  They can focus on making and keeping friends, learning in and out of school, having fun and getting the most from life.

If most days a child has one parent they are scared of and another is generally unavailable to them either practically or emotionally because she is trying to do everything 'right' to keep the scary one happy then they will not be able to build a strong relationship with either care giver and consequently struggle to develop lasting relationships with others as they have no template for them. 

If a child has one parent who they are terrified off but who they keep hoping that this is the day they will change and be like the other Dad's, or who they believe that if they do what ever he asks then he is kinder to everyone, like Mum does, or who they fear they might be like as they sometimes lash out at others, then this will shape the way they view life and themselves.

So much more to cover on this, I will try to cover a variety of aspect so behaviour and parenting which are affected by living through trauma in my follow up Blogs.

The continued 'fall out' - "they won't sleep in their own beds".

As a Parenting Worker, one of the main reasons I would be sought out by professionals and parents alike would be because of issues around children not sleeping, not going to bed, not sleeping in their own beds or getting up in the night, usually to go and get food.

Sleep, of course is very important for parents and children. Parents need it to be able to function properly and deal with the needs of their children and the demands of life, children need it to help them grow and to be able to cope with the demands of learning about life and accessing their formal education.  Lack of sleep, I always remind parents, is often used as a means of breaking people down when they are being tortured as it disorientates them and reduces their will power, their ability to think and function even on a basic level.

Parents report to me the following problems around bed time and sleep:

  • they won't go up or stay up stairs
  • I can't get them to settle in their own beds
  • they insist in sleeping with me
  • they insist on sleeping with me even though the abuse finished 2 years ago
  • they wet the bed
  • they have trouble sleeping in the run up to seeing their Dad
  • they have trouble sleeping after they have seen their Dad
  • bed time is always dramatic and I often 'lose it'
  • she regularly has nightmares
  • he often wakes and tells me there are monsters behind the curtains
  • she is often still awake at 1 a.m. and then can't get up for school
  • I am exhausted
  • I've been told to keep putting him back in his bed but he gets upset
  • she often comes into my room in the middle of the night saying she heard a noise.
Of course.all of these behaviours have a real impact on home life, family relationships and everyone's ability to function and get on with life. So, I will try to offer some insight into why children/young people are having so much difficulty doing something so natural and necessary.

Children who live through any kind of difficult and traumatic home life will be affected to a lesser or greater degree.  Children who no longer live with domestic violence and other abuse, who are taken into a caring foster or adoptive family, who have come through a period of trauma will not then just get on with life because they are physically safe and secure.

Many of the parents I have supported seemed to recover more quickly than their children and then struggled to come to terms with not  being able to, "force them better" as one of them so accurately put it to me.  Therefore, when sleep issues remain as a problem for an extended period it is hard for everyone to remain compassionate, patient and child-focused, especially the sleep deprived.

So what is going on for these traumatised children?  Well, through the many difficult situations they have lived in, several things have happened and are linked to bed and night time:

  • arguments, fights, shouting, throwing often happen when the children are in bed
  • children who live in a tense, explosive, unpredictable household become hyper sensitive to moods, body language, expressions, tone of voice so will often sense when things are brewing
  • bad news, the Police often come at night
  • they may have had to leave their homes in the middle of the night
  • they may have been sexually abused in the night
  • a drunken abuser may have dragged them from their beds to 'listen' to him rant or abuse their mother
  • they have come down in the morning to an injured mother and a trashed house but both parents acting as if everything is fine
  • they may experience flash backs and nightmares as a result of their trauma
  • there may be things in their environment, especially if they still live where the abuse took place, which regularly re-traumatise them
  • they are terrified of being apart from their Mum at night as she is the only security they have
  • the abuser has found them before and may again
  • bed times were always difficult when they lived with the abuser as everyone was tired and that would be a time when he would really 'kick off'
  • they have overwhelming feelings about seeing the abusive parent again
The list goes on and perhaps what is most important to grasp is that the children/young people are responding in a logical way given what life has taught them so can/should not be told off, punished or shouted at.  Often a worker who can unpick with and support a parent to see the reasons for the child's behaviour will help.  There are no magic reward/punishment based solutions just patience, kindness, support and time as life thus far has not taught the child to believe that bad things won't happen at night.

Friday, 8 June 2012

When parenting is all about survival.

This Blog is the first of several to explore how a family is affected by domestic violence and abuse and what parenting challenges this can present in addition to the ones all parents can experience.

One of the greatest and most damaging abuses that can be visited upon a mother and child living with domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is the disruption it can cause to their relationship.  A stark statement to make but there is so much research to show how an abuser will control a mother’s access and response to their child and how this results in long lasting effects for a child.

“According to Humphreys (2007b)domestic violence is an attack on the relationship between the child and their mother”, and in my work with families  I have certainly seen plenty of evidence of families who have got the abuse out of their lives but then find their own relationships are fragile, complex and in disarray.

Trying to parent a child when living with an abuser is a mine field every day as responding instinctively or logically to a child’s needs may not be possible and could be dangerous.  If some-one else is controlling when and if you can pick up, change or feed your crying baby then it is hard to regularly meet the baby’s basic needs and to get into any kind of rhythm and routine and certainly rules out any time playing with your baby.

Knowing that you have to keep lively toddlers quiet. still and out of the way is stressful for both parent and children and puts a stop to any normal everyday interactions and conversations.  Being forced to get your children up in the middle of the night to listen to their abusive parent rant, or having to put them to bed way too early because he’s fed up with them, or having to punish them harshly for a tiny mistake and not being able to comfort them when they are hurting because you are” babying them” all run against instinct and desire.

This is the picture for families where there is DVA, no natural rhythm to their lives, tension, trauma, unpredictability, shame, confusion, overwhelming feelings to repress, lies, fear and despair.  Parenting children through this often comes down to trying to protect them from seeing and hearing the worst or being caught in the line of fire.  Survival becomes the key aim every day and trying not to ‘upset’ the abuser by focusing on their needs first and foremost which leaves little room to ‘see’ the children and their needs.

Exhausting and traumatising for the non-abusive parent and children.  What a relief then when they get away from the abuser and can start again.  So true, but with this freedom and safety comes the need to understand the toll living this way has taken on you as an individual and as a parent and the high price you and your children have paid.  Parenting will be different now but not straightforward and this is where specialist support is helpful to aid the process of unpicking the effects of the DVA on you and your children and understanding how to move forward together to build the relationship you all deserve.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Parenting Simply is Priceless

Parenting is the thing we are often least prepared for but have most expectations of! 

Parenting requires high levels of empathy, a strong sense of being tuned into the physical and emotional needs of a child and a basic understanding of what all children need to function and grow and what it is reasonable to expect a child to be able to do and feel.  Many parents have to learn these skills and this knowledge as it is not just 'in us' to know how to parent but we can all learn it so that's a relief. 

One of the most crucial things for a child is to have a parent who is emotionally responsive and available to them.  Hygiene standards may not be perfect, diet may be at times interesting, nappies may not always be promptly changed, homework may not always be done, school uniform variable but if a parent is focused on the emotional needs and well-being of their child then most other things can be sorted at a later stage. 

Early engagement with a baby, called attachment, is the time when the baby makes a sound and some one responds with a smile, a cuddle or some baby talk and input at this stage is priceless

The child who comes out of pre-school to have a parent not on their phone or hurrying them along but stopping to talk to them and check in with them and chat through their day on the way home 
is priceless.

The teenager who falls through the door after a day at school and goes straight to their room but gets a gentle knock on the door and a quick chat with some one prepared to see past the scowl or seeming lack of response is priceless.

Parenting can be complex but the simple act of reconnecting every day as often as possible in a range of low key ways pays dividends for relationships and a child's sense of self worth.  As I wrote in my Blog, Attachment and other squirrels, it is these simple things which make a difference, especially if relationships have been struggling.

I am a keen rugby fan and when things are not going well in a game a  retired rugby commentator will often say, "they just need to do the simple things well".  I could not agree more!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Attachment in parenting and other squirrels!!

I eat, sleep, breathe parenting and much thinking leads to many 'thought squirrels' for me as I tend to go off at tangents due to over excitement and enthusiasm so I will try to blog about one squirrel at at time so we are not continually rounding them up!

Have just been reading again on 'attachment parenting', which caused a range of reactions and comments, see, and I am keen emphasise the important role of 'attachment in parenting', as confusion could lead to us losing this vital component of parenting, especially crucial to establish where there has been any kind of trauma.

It is easy to think that attachment is something that will just happen when some one is carrying a child and that this will be the beginning of the process for the Mum and Dad to be.  However, although a more physical, natural bonding process is likely pre-birth, attachment is something that starts once the child is born.  Unfortunately though, when a baby is born into a home life of chaos, stress and traumatic events the attachment process is unlikely to run smoothly.

In order to learn about themselves, others and life a baby needs those caring for her to respond to her basic needs.  This does not have to be done perfectly every time as sleep deprivation, lack of confidence and competence play their roles but just picking a baby up can never spoil it and is the basis of attachment, followed by talking to a baby and showing you are interested.  Sounds straightforward enough, although at 2 a.m. for the fourth night in a row, maybe less so! 

Where a family are living with uncertainty because of substance misuse, domestic violence and abuse and/or mental illness, then attachment can be affected.  It is hard for a mother to respond to her baby if she knows it is going to get a negative reaction from her partner so she may feel she can't do what she wants too for fear of triggering the abuse.  Being criticised constantly every time the baby cries could mean a mother will become random and frantic in her responses to her babies cries.  Being too drunk or high could mean that no one is available to do the basics of feeding, comforting, changing, holding and reassuring a baby and this will affect how a baby understands their place in the World and what they should expect from it.

Attachment does not mean being glued to a baby or child's side, as some articles on 'attachment parenting' have indicated, but it does mean making sure your child is aware that you are around, available now, or shortly and that you will do your best to regulate the challenges they face in being a baby/child.  Shouting through from the study while you are writing an essay, or from the kitchen/bathroom maintains a link to your child, keeping up a dialogue is not hard for most of us and will let a baby/child know that they matter as wiil regular input of showing an interest in what they are doing as it is impossible to be available every second of the day even when there are two doting parents/carers. 

So, no need for 24/7 craft, cupcake baking and nature walks everyday but keep in touch and let them know they matter, especially if you have all lived through difficult times then there will be an increased need for this and it will take time to be able to leave children alone as they will need you there to help them regulate their feelings, actions and thoughts to a much greater degree. (Future blog to come on this subject) 

Where attachment has been affected by any kind of trauma seek support from those around you as it will be harder to regulate your child's feelings and needs as they do not have a solid belief system which tells them that it will definitely all be OK, this will take time and will need you to be much more present and to have your child around to a greater degree to offer reassurance and in time this will decrease but the maintaining of a conversation is always crucial to attachment, especially if it is need of extra nurturing. Attachment in parenting and other squirrels!!