Reading between the lines, Part 3: Trusted Resources

Editor’s note: There are continually media reports coming out about parenting approaches, including Attachment Parenting. Some are affirming. Others are worrying. It’s important that we know how to read between the lines on media reports regarding Attachment Parenting so that we can make informed decisions. That’s why Attachment Parenting International compiled this sampling of trusted resources for parenting information, in addition to consumer media guidelines and additional guidelines for reading scientific studies:

pixabay - statue

Reading between the lines, Part 2: Get the Most Out of a Scientific Study

Editor’s note: There are continually media reports coming out about parenting approaches, including Attachment Parenting. Some are affirming. Others are worrying. It’s important that we know how to read between the lines on media reports regarding Attachment Parenting so that we can make informed decisions. That’s why Attachment Parenting International (API) created consumer media guidelines for parents. Here are additional guidelines specific to reading scientific studies:

pixabay - question marksUnless you’re an academic, you’ll probably find research studies to not be the easiest material to digest, but if the science behind parenting matters to you, it’s important to check out studies you learn about through the media. Here are tips to help you skim through a study without getting bogged down in scientific terms:

  1. Read the title. What does it predict?
  2. Read the abstract. This is the most complete synopsis of the paper. It will outline the highlights of the study but without the necessary emphasis to allow you to make a critical assessment of the results.
  3. Read the last or second-to-last paragraph of the Introduction. This gives you what the abstract does not. But if you’re not familiar with the work, read the entire Introduction and pick out issues to explore separately.
  4. Read the first, or sometimes the last, paragraph of the Discussion. By this point, you should be able to identify the hypotheses, know what type of results to expect, and have the predictions on the experiments and their outcomes.
  5. Examine each Figure or Table in sequence. Read the Results associated to each Figure or Table for clarification. For issues concerning methodology, refer to the appropriate point in the Materials and Methods.
  6. Does the experiment address the hypothesis? Does the experiment contribute to the stated conclusions? Is the experiment central to these conclusions? Or does it provide a control? Or does it repeat previous results? Or does it contribute little to the paper?
  7. How well did you predict the experiment and the results?
  8. As you evaluate the actual results — not just the stated results — in the Figures and Tables, ask yourself: Do the results support their claim with the appropriate controls to validate the results? Do you see more in their results that they fail to address or identify? Can you identify limitations to their results or the experimental approach? Do the results address the hypotheses that you have identified?
  9. After reading through the Results, you should be able to identify the single-most important Figure or Table in the paper.
  10. Read through the Discussion to weigh the stated conclusions and claims against the evidence. Do you agree or disagree?

Reading between the lines, Part 1: Media Analysis Guidelines for Parents

Editor’s note: There are continually media reports coming out about parenting approaches, including Attachment Parenting. Some are affirming. Others are worrying. It’s important that we know how to read between the lines on media reports regarding Attachment Parenting so that we can make informed decisions. That’s why Attachment Parenting International (API) created these consumer media guidelines:

What’s Fact or Fiction in Parenting News?

Media Analysis Guidelines for Parents

pixabay - media confusionLet’s say the blogosphere is abuzz about a research study that shows that sleep-training methods like cry-it-out have no long-term effects on children or that physically punitive discipline tactics like spanking result in children who are better behaved or that birthing without drug pain relief is dangerous.

Perhaps, you’re committed to Attachment Parenting and child-rearing “news of the day” has no effect on what decisions you’ll make regarding your child in the future.

When parents who are firm in Attachment Parenting have a question about whether a child-rearing practice leads to a secure parent-child attachment bond, they feel certain that they can turn to API resources, specifically API’s Eight Principles of Parenting, the cofounders’ book Attached at the Heart, or local API Support Groups and API Leaders.

But what if you’re new to Attachment Parenting — it’s intrigued you, you’re trying it out, but you’re unsure of whether this will work for your family because it’s so different from how you were raised or how other parents around you are raising their children?

When you hear that other parenting strategies are safer and better than yours, whether that holding your baby too much will keep him from developing independence or that there’s no benefit to breastfeeding once solids are introduced — whether you’re reading this in a magazine or hearing it from your neighbor — you begin to doubt yourself and your child. You think, maybe, I got it all wrong. Maybe I should be doing this or that. Maybe I’m setting my child up for failure?

How can you know for sure that your choices in how you parent, even if opposite from others in your family, friends, or community, are right for you and your family, and are healthy for your child?

API has created these guidelines for parents to help sift through the clutter of media news reports, parenting experts, the next big thing in baby products, or even a pediatrician’s advice…basically anyone or anything that tries to influence the way you parent your child:

  • Know your beliefs, values, and how these fit (or don’t fit) into the culture around you

How we parent is rooted in the legacy that we want to pass down to our children. Moral attitudes are the core of ourselves, our identity. You can identify them by recognizing the emotions attached to your preferences regarding morals. These values and beliefs may not necessarily jive with the culture in which you live. For example, a study that urges women not to choose a birth without interventions is logical for a culture where childbirth is treated like a medical emergency rather than a natural, biological event.

  • Learn the back story

Every piece of advice, whether a formal research study or a book by a popular parenting author or a comment made by your child’s nurse or a quip from your mother-in-law, has a story. What is it?

Who is the person talking or writing? What is their specific field of study? What is their primary professional focus, like research, medical, policy, etc.? What is their sponsoring organization about? What theory are they citing? What is their credentials or experience? Is it in line with your values and belief system, with your goals for your child? Are researchers observing ethical standards in their treatment of study participants?

Are journalists following ethical guidelines? Dramatizing an article or blog post, also known as sensationalism, is a common way to pull readers into an article. A little punchiness isn’t bad, but it becomes unethical when the hook of a story turns into demoralizing one side of an otherwise harmless, though not necessarily controversial, topic. Journalists — which includes both writers and editors by trade, and those who share their thoughts through blogs and even comments — have great power in forming and shifting public opinion. This is why it is utterly important that mass communicators follow an ethical standard, and that their readers know the difference between ethical and unethical journalism.

What may be influencing the person giving you advice? Beware of any businesses whose goal is to sell a product or service for-profit. In terms of a research study, who is paying for it? It’s not uncommon for some well-publicized studies to be funded by organizations that lean strongly toward the results, such as a study that shows bedsharing to be dangerous that is paid for by an anti-cosleeping group.

  • Beware of out-of-the-ordinary claims

Does the information offer evidence-based recommendations that follow current best practices? The majority of studies show that spanking is detrimental to child development. If a study is introduced that shows spanking to have a positive effect on children, be suspicious. Such a study isn’t valid until other studies begin to show the same results.

  • Check out the facts

Any information posed as fact should have references to a credible source. An article summarizing a research study should at least provide all the information for you to look up the study yourself, if not provide you a direct link to the original abstract.

Any author or person stating something as fact, as opposed to opinion, should be able to provide you with those references. If someone quotes a statistic, look it up.

In terms of a research study itself, the sample size matters as does who is in the sample and how they were selected; random selection is desirable. What was measured and how? Are the outcome measures clearly related to the variables with which the study occurred? At least 1 long-term follow-up is desirable. When reporting observations, are the study’s authors reporting what they actually saw or are they reporting their interpretation of what they saw? Are the results of the study based on a sample of the population that would apply to you? Also, see whether the study has been replicated, if it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, and don’t forget to check out the researcher’s own discussion of limitations.

The strongest research methods for psychological studies are: qualitative findings versus quantitative; experimental rather than descriptive or correlational; controlled-experiment, meta-analysis, and observation designs over archival, case study, computational modeling, content analysis, field experiment, interview, neuroimaging, quasi experiment, self-report inventory, random sample survey, or twin study; and prospective (where subjects are recruited prior to the proposed independent effects being administered) and longitudinal (where subjects are studied at multiple time points) rather than retrospective or cross-section study.

  • Notice diversity

Information that works tends to be applicable to everyone. Seek out information that doesn’t count out differences in race, marital status, ethnicity, etc., although understandably, some information such as breastfeeding only applies to a certain gender.

  • Understand that the media sensationalizes

While their goal is accuracy in reporting, journalists only have so much room to write or time on the air and a controversial story angle and flashy headline is the best way to attract readers. Readers/viewers tend to side with people who share their identity, even when the facts disagree; that’s why throwing data and rational arguments at people doesn’t change attitudes. What does change attitudes is emotional storytelling, and that’s what the news media knows hooks readers. Another hook is in political motivations. Remember to ask yourself: What is the purpose of this message, and who is the intended audience, and what techniques are being used to grab and hold my attention? Add all of these factors together, and a news media report likely has gaps in critical pieces of information that affects how the information should be used by consumers.

Along these same lines, realize that nothing “proves” in research. Research may show a “correlation,” a “connection,” or may “suggest,” but there are simply too many factors in any one person’s life to “prove” an outcome. A website that currently does a good job at presenting information factually and without bias is

  • Seek out a balanced argument

Look for sources that readily open a discussion about parenting ideas, whether new-age or traditional, and that provide all sides of a debate: risks, benefits, and alternatives. Demand transparency: Credible sources disclose their biases and conflicts of interest.

  • Look for Attachment Parenting synonyms

While the merits of any parenting style should be weighed with your values and belief system, there are many parenting programs that are in line with API’s Eight Principles of Parenting but that are called by another name, such as connection, instinctive, empathic, sensitive, unconditional, peaceful, natural, and nonviolent parenting, and others do not refer to any name in particular. Attachment Parenting is an umbrella term; it includes every style of childrearing that creates and strengthens secure parent-child attachment bonds.

However, not all parenting styles are as inclusive as Attachment Parenting; some may discourage bedsharing for example or may advocate a certain parenting choice that API does not take a stance on such as cloth diapering or circumcision.

Editor’s Pick: Emotional abuse, a dark form of children’s maltreatment

“Growing up in a household where your emotions are either actively discouraged or punished, or simply ignored takes a toll on you, a developing child. You internalize the message that your feelings, your needs, your views don’t matter. It’s a belief that’s rooted in childhood feelings. That belief/feeling is powerful, and it stays with you throughout your life.” ~ Jonice Webb, PhD, in “Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Enemy of Assertiveness,” Psych Central

Sad ChildIn this week’s Editor’s pick, Attachment Parenting International is shedding light on a form of maltreatment of children that is often kept in the dark: emotional abuse. Unlike physical abuse, there is little awareness concerning emotional abuse — it’s less visible and is rarely covered by the media.

Emotional abuse is often misunderstood, as it’s complex and more difficult to recognize. Although it’s pervasive, and can be as damaging and painful to children as physical and sexual trauma, it’s not considered as troublesome as physical abuse.

Emotional abuse of a child is commonly defined as a pattern of behavior by parents or caregivers that has negative mental impact on the child. It’s also referred to as psychological maltreatment. Some examples of mental abuse are:

  • name-calling
  • verbally insulting
  • shaming or humiliating
  • threatening violence (with or without carrying out threats)
  • ridiculing or criticizing the child’s appearance, abilities or fears
  • failing to express warmth and tenderness to the child
  • neglecting to show interest in the child’s thoughts, feeling or activities.

Emotional needs are intrinsic to our nature as human beings. Attachment Parenting promotes an approach that applies sensitive parental response and practicing nurturing parenting methods that foster strong emotional bonds — also known as secure attachment — between children and their parents. Secure attachment, trust and mutual respect are the building blocks of a strong, healthy emotional foundation that follows children into adulthood.

With increasing awareness and evolved societal norms, many people move away from spanking and other forms of physical abuse. Consequently, however, there is more temptation to shift that punishment attitude toward verbal responses — which may seem innocuous — not realizing that some common responses are actually a form of emotional abuse. Here are a few examples of such comments:

  • “I wish you were more like your brother.”
  • “If you don’t do as I say, I will leave you!”
  • “You’re the reason Mommy is sad.”
  • “Shut up!”
  • “You are a bad boy.”
  • “You think you’re so special, don’t you?”

Verbal abuse is the most common form of emotional maltreatment and results in long-term harm. As noted in this Health Day article, “Yelling at Children (Verbal Abuse),” research shows that verbally abused children are more likely to:

  • become victims of abuse later in life
  • become abusive themselves
  • become depressed and self-destructive later in life
  • develop anxiety.

We are all familiar with adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But children and adults who have been verbally abused will tell you otherwise: Words are powerful and they do hurt, especially when inflicted upon children by their parents — the leading authority figures in their life and the adults children look to for protection, not only from physical harm but also emotional damage.

There are some who excuse name-calling, shaming or other forms of abuse as effective means to discipline or “toughen up” kids — an outdated idea to make them more resilient and better adapt to the “real world” — when, in fact, the contrary is true: These patterns of behavior by parents produce deep emotional and mental scars that undermine self-esteem and affect the ability to have healthy, trusting relationships.

In this Psych Central article, “Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Enemy of Assertiveness,” Jonice Webb, PhD, uncovers that the reason assertiveness is so much more difficult for some people to learn and practice than others is because “assertiveness is most difficult for those who grew up in households that either actively or passively discouraged emotional expression,” both examples of childhood emotional neglect.

Emotional abuse is painful. It penetrates into the heart and the soul of a child who needs to be loved, cared for, and responded to with sensitivity and compassion by his caregivers — not ignored, not humiliated, and not insulted.

A 2015 study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that regardless of the type of maltreatment endured — physical, sexual or emotional — children suffered similar consequences. As reported by Reuters, Dr. William Copeland, a psychiatry researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA, stated that: “This study is about righting a longstanding error and prejudice about the differences between these common childhood adversities,” adding: “It suggests that whether we are talking about prevention, screening or treatment, our notions of childhood mistreatment need to be broader and more holistic than they have been. There are no hierarchies when it comes to child maltreatment.”

Editor’s pick: Consider a midwife

“Once born, baby’s hormonal control systems and brain synapses begin to permanently organize according to the human interactions she experiences.” ~ Linda Folden Palmer, DC, in “The Chemistry of Attachment

pixabay - newborn handAttachment Parenting International encourages parents to make informed choices regarding childbirth, and that includes selecting your health care provider. Many Attachment Parenting families choose midwifery.

This week’s featured article is “Midwives are essential to global heath” on TIME, written by Jerker Liljestrand of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health program.

“Despite the fact that cesarean section rates higher than 10% are not associated with reductions in maternal and newborn mortality, many countries across the world — including the U.S., Brazil and even parts of India — are seeing rates of cesarean section rise to over 30%,” Jerker writes.

Childbirth has been happening since the beginning of mankind, but it is only in the last century that it has been viewed as a medical event rather than a natural human experience.

It’s true that some childbirth experiences do turn into medical events — that complications do arise that necessitate interventions up to and including cesareans. But as Jerker explains, the vast majority of births are normal, uncomplicated and with no need to become a medical event.

The solution, Jerker proposes, lies in midwifery — a profession that dates back to ancient Egypt when women supported other women in childbirth. Today — and, I’m sure, back then, too — midwives are trained with a focus on natural births, and the way they support birthing women is to facilitate natural births. Jerker refers to research that shows that the use of a midwife leads to fewer preterm births, fewer labor interventions and shorter hospital stays.

In many less-developed countries — like Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, and Ethiopia — midwives has helped to reduce maternal and newborn mortality drastically. Just in Cambodia, midwife-attended births have slashed maternal mortality by two-thirds since 1990!

From API’s perspective, the less complicated childbirth is, the easier it is to establish that mother-infant bond that eventually blossoms into a secure parent-child attachment. API promotes childbirth experiences with the least interventions possible to allow the natural hormone flow in mothers, infants and even fathers to get bonding off to the best start.

What childbirth experience do you want your baby to have? Consider a midwife to help.

Editor’s pick: Where punishment, not even timeout, will have no home

“All behavior is communication.” ~ Linda Hatfield, cofounder of Parenting from the Heart

spankOutLogoToday, as we celebrate SpankOut Day April 30th — an annual observance founded by the Center for Effective Discipline (now part of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center) to bring attention to the need to stop physical punishment of children and promote nonviolent discipline — I want to encourage everyone to take this movement a step further than ending spanking as a discipline method. It’s time to talk about timeout and the detrimental effects this very widespread alternative to spanking has on children, families and society.

This week’s featured article is “Why you should never use timeouts on your kids” from PBS Newshour. It is written by journalist and parenting blogger Wendy Thomas Russell who shares what she’s learned about using timeouts and why they’re really no better than hitting our kids.

“Decades of neuroscience and social research have shown that timeouts and other methods of punishment are not only ineffective in steering the behavior of children but outright damaging,” Wendy writes.

You read that right.

The fact of the matter is all punishments are damaging. It doesn’t matter if its spanking or timeout or taking away privileges or any other punishment. Every form of punishment is harmful, as Wendy reports, because “it takes the core need of the child and uses it as a bargaining chip.”

The core need she points out here is emotional attachment. Timeout separates parents and children, using the child’s emotional needs as a trade — if the child wants that attachment, he or she has to do this certain behavior, even if that behavior compromises another need, such as hunger, tiredness, or acceptance…and even if that behavior is not even developmentally appropriate for that child.

I like how Wendy describes children’s misbehavior — that children simply do not misbehave. All they do is behave, and their behavior — as so many attached parents understand — is a reflection of their needs in combination with their biological development stage. So a 2-year-old child is going to behave differently when hungry or tired or unwell or sad or angry or scared or overstimulated or bored or happy than a 6 year old or an 8 year old or an 11 year old. And it’s our job, as parents, not to punish them for their innate, biologically driven behavior but to guide them toward behaviors that help them cope with the situation.

If we look at spanking, parents who use spanking or hitting or physical punishment are hurting their children in their attempt to teach. If we look at timeout, parents are also hurting their children in their attempt to teach — through isolation and ignoring — and this type of emotional pain is just as damaging to a child as physical pain. What children are learning when they’re in pain or fear of pain is much different than what they are learning when not afraid or in pain.

Think about if you are trying to learn a new skill. Let’s say it’s painting a picture. If your painting instructor yells at you, hits you, or puts you in a corner every time you make a brush stroke she doesn’t like, what are you learning? Anxiety mostly.

If that same instructor guides you on how to hold the brush, how to put the paint on the brush, how to sweep the stroke over the canvas — exercising patience for your skill level, without punishment — what are you learning? How to paint.

Some parents may see this as a long way from trying to teach children not to do certain behaviors, but what all parents are trying to teach are actually skills — life skills. And considering that children learn more from what parents model, the skills that parents are teaching when they spank, issue timeouts, or use other punishments is to feel anxious and afraid, to expect physical or emotional pain when they approach a behavior boundary, and to react to feeling angry by controlling and coercing others.

That is violence.

Let’s promote nonviolence. And we can do it. Many parents when faced with the alternative of not spanking, using timeouts, or punishment assume that there are no ways to discipline their children. But discipline does not equal punishment. There are far more ways to discipline a child without punishment than with, and to be honest, nonviolent discipline is far more effective than punishment in teaching children — every time.

Many, many, many parents who have done both punishment and positive discipline will tell you this. The problem is, many parents who use punishments and who criticize positive discipline have never really tried doing the latter. If they did, they are bound to learn what Sarah Clark at Mothering learned — that positive discipline works and doesn’t turn our children into brats and heathens, but rather into some really amazing kids motivated out of attachment, which is far more powerful than fear.

But it does take a definite learning curve for parents to learn to discipline without punishment. There’s a lot more at stake than simply changing their parenting behaviors regarding discipline. How each of us react when angry or feeling another strong emotion is tied into our own neurobiology shaped by how we ourselves were raised, and even how our parents were raised, as well as the generation we grew up in and the community and society we knew then. Punishment is rooted in a worldview that goes way beyond the moment a parent feels angry and strikes her child or shuts his child, screaming and begging (even if not out loud) to come out, in his room.

All this to say that as we gently push our society toward positive, emotionally healthy relationships, we have to be patient with one another. We have to recognize how far society has come, and while it has a long way to go, we are making progress — bit by bit — through this Attachment Parenting movement. As parents and professionals hear more and more, from mainstream media especially, about the ever-mounting research of the negative effects of spanking, timeouts and other punishments — more parents will be willing to go through the hard work of addressing their often generations-deep perspectives on what it means to have a healthy relationship and to change their hearts toward parenting.

I applaud every parent who is on this journey toward a more trusting, empathic, affectionate, joyful, and peaceful family where punishment will some day have no home.

attachment is everythingEven $5 makes a huge difference to furthering the Attachment Parenting movement, which relies exclusively on donations, to continue providing free education and support to parents around the world

Editor’s pick: Reconnecting our kids with nature for healthy development

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” ~ David Attenborough, English broadcaster and naturalistGirl Dress Field

Today is Earth Day. We are reminded of the need to protect our Earth with all its wonders and beautiful resources: the majestic glaciers, magnificent oceans, captivating tall trees, vast grasslands, and all precious life forms. Today, Attachment Parenting International (API) observes the significance of our Earth and nature as a valuable resource for our children’s well-being.

Connecting with nature — spending time outdoors — provides children with the opportunity to freely engage in exploration, observation, creativity, and physical activity. It promotes the development of physical, emotional, and spiritual balance children need to flourish.

With the prevalence of electronic devices, overscheduling and the increasingly limited availability of natural settings, children nowadays have little opportunities to spend time outdoors and in nature. Television, the internet and social media are at their fingertips: They spend many hours being connected, but yet disconnected — from their natural environment.

In his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, journalist Richard Louv coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder,” referring to the negative effects resulting from children spending less time outdoors. In his groundbreaking work, Louv sheds light on this important issue that deeply affects our children.

In this Parent & Child magazine article, Louv explains why nature is vital for children: As human beings, our connection to nature is biologically innate. Nature deficit disorder is not a medical condition but a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children, and some of the consequent problems are depression, obesity, and attention problems.

In his Orion magazine article, “Leave No Child Inside,” Louv discusses the need behind the movement to reconnect kids with nature: “As one suburban fifth grader put it to me, in what has become the signature epigram of the children-and-nature movement: ‘I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.’”

Due to the movement, there is growing dialogue on the subject of children and nature among educators, health care providers, recreation companies, residential developers, urban planners, conservation agencies, academics, and others.

There is also a growing body of research on the problem of children’s disconnection from the natural environment, and the benefits of increased connection. Some of the benefits discussed in this Natural Learning Initiative piece are:

  • Supports creativity and problem solving
  • Enhances cognitive abilities
  • Improves social relations
  • Improves self-discipline
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms
  • Increases physical activity.

Children’s immersion and connection with nature also has profound implications on future conservation and the direction of the environmental movement. If, as a society, we would truly understand the benefits nature has to offer to our children, we would be more inclined to re-evaluate our relationship with nature and the urgency to protect our beautiful Earth.

Additional API Resources for Earth Day

Larry CohenPlayful Parenting with Larry Cohen,” author of Playful Parenting, The Art of Roughhousing, and Picnic on a Cloud, in this API Teleseminar — now just $9 for your audio recording!

Nature’s toys” from AP Month 2011

More professional insight from The Attached Family online magazine:

Conscious Living with Lisa Reagan,” executive editor of Kindred Media & Community, cofounder of Families for Conscious Living, and member of API’s Resource Advisory Council

Parenting for a Sustainable World: Cultivating a Reverence for Life” by Lysa Parker, cofounder of API and coauthor of Attached at the Heart

And personal stories from other APtly Said blog posts:

Teaching environmental responsibility

Nature therapy

Fall party

Hiking with children

Editor’s pick: 6 evolved needs for healthy human development

“…we have forgotten that we are social mammals with specific evolved needs from birth.” ~ Darcia Narvaez, PhD, Notre Dame Psychologist, member of Attachment Parenting International‘s Board of Directors

The Attachment Parenting approach can be regarded as parenting guided by nature’s lead — being attuned to our own feelings and instincts as well as our child’s needs, such as following our natural instincts to breastfeed, respond to a crying baby and provide ample physical contact to a developing human baby.

Darcia Narvaez USE5Psychologist Darcia Narvaez has been conducting research on moral cognition, moral development and moral character. On her blog, Moral Landscapes at Psychology Today, she often writes about raising healthy, happy children and parenting. In her writing, she examines the importance of parenting practices that match up with our evolved needs. Narvaez refers to the Evolved Developmental Niche (EDN) as the early “nest” that humans inherit from their ancestors, which matches up with the maturation schedule of the child, emphasizing 6 components:

  1. Naturalistic perinatal experiences
  2. Responsiveness to a baby’s needs including sensitivity to the signals of the baby before the baby cries
  3. Constant physical presence with plenty of affectionate
  4. Extensive breastfeeding
  5. Playful interactions with caregivers and friends
  6. A community of affectionate, mindful caregivers.

These evolved needs align with Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting.

This week’s featured article is a recent study featured in a report by WSBT Television and soon to be published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Science. The study by Narvaes and colleagues Lijuan Wang and Ying Cheng shows that childhood experiences that match with human evolved needs lead to better outcomes in adulthood.

In the study, adults reflected on the EDN in their childhood. The findings point out that children with parents who were affectionate, sensitive and playful developed into happier and healthier adults with better mental health — feeling less depressed and anxious — and better social capacity.

pixabay - newborn and dadAccording to Narvaez, one of the reasons that the well-being of children in the United States lags behind that of children in other advanced nations is because “we have forgotten that we are social mammals with specific evolved needs from birth.”

Young children’s needs and wants often get confused or misunderstood. Perhaps, with a clear understanding of the distinction between the two — needs versus wants — it may be easier for some to realize and accept the importance of meeting early childhood needs. Babies need — not merely want:

  • Their parents to respond when they cry at night.
  • Physical contact — to be held and get a lot of affection.
  • Their parents to be mindful and responsive.
  • To interact and play with their caregivers.

It is reassuring that, increasingly, scientific research shows what our instincts already know: Children need attachment, affection and sensitivity to thrive.

Learn more about how to discern between needs and wants with our infants and children with these API audio recordings — each just $9:

billsearsNeeds vs Wants: How to fulfill a child’s needs yet discern his wants in a way that preserves healthy attachment” with William Sears, MD

Jean_Illsley_Clarke_Photo“How Much is Enough? Attachment Parenting, permissive parenting and overindulgence” with Jean Illsley Clarke, PhD, CFLE