Attachment Parenting Group in Devon

The mission of Attachment Parenting International (API) is to educate and support all parents in raising secure, joyful, and empathic children in order to strengthen families and create a more compassionate world. API promotes science-based parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents.
There is a group based in Totnes that meets reguarly – for more information please look at www.devonapi.com/Come-To-A-Meeting.html
Meetings take the shape of informal discussions and each meeting will have a theme, for example ‘Dealing With Strong Emotions’, ‘Handling Criticism Of Your Parenting Style’, ‘Positive Discipline’ or ‘Safe Sleep’.
Although there are a range of different styles within attachment parenting, the overarching philosophy remains the same. What positive discipline or co-sleeping looks like differs from home to home, depending on the principles and circumstances of the particular family. Devon API is here to provide support and information, not to judge. We realize that some aspects of practicing attachment parenting may not come easily to many of us; we are here to support one another to nurture our children in a compassionate way.
Attachment Parenting isn’t new. It is in many ways a return to the instinctual behaviors of our ancestors. In the last 60 years, the behaviors of attachment parenting have been studied extensively by psychology and child development researchers, and more recently, by researchers studying the brain. This body of knowledge offers strong support for areas that are key to the optimal development of emotionally balanced children, summarized in API’s Eight Principles of Parenting:
Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
There is an abundance of advice and opinion for parents-to-be and reading about all the options available to you and questioning what is best for you as an individual/family is important. Research available options for healthcare providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care. Birth preparation is both emotional and physical and a great time to educate yourself about child development, recognise what your particular needs will  be as a new parent and remain flexible.

 

Feed with Love and Respect
Although breastfeeding is the optimal way to fulfil our infants nutritional and emotional needs and is one of the most natural things we can do to care for our children, it does not always come easily. There are definitely occasions when many mothers need support. For bottle-feeding mothers it is possible to benefit from some of the advantages of breastfeeding by ‘Bottle Nursing’. Bottle-nursing adapts  breast-feeding behaviours to further strengthen the growing attachment between the mother and her newborn.
Respond with Sensitivity
The foundation of trust and empathy begin in infancy when parents are able to respond in a way the baby expects – with sensitivity, consistently and quickly. Babies cannot be expected to self-soothe, and calm, loving, empathetic parents  help them learn to regulate their emotions. Respond sensitively to a child who is hurting or expressing strong emotion (while understanding their developmental abilities) and share in their joy.
Use Nurturing Touch
Affection, security, relaxation and stimulation can all be offered to your child through loving physical contact. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. Babywearing is a great way to incorporate nurturing touch into your -day-to-day and has many practical benefits. To find a carrier that is ergonomically well-designed and suits your needs visit www.naturalnursery.co.uk
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
Babies and children rely on parents to soothe them and help them regulate their intense emotions and physical functions. These needs exist at night just as they do during the day; from hunger, loneliness, and fear, to feeling too hot or too cold. Sleep training techniques can have detrimental physiological and psychological effects. Co-sleeping (including bed-sharing) has benefits to both babies and parents and by following the established guidelines can be safe and allow everyone better sleep.
Provide Consistent and Loving Care
Babies and young children have an intense need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving, responsive caregiver: ideally a parent. If it becomes necessary, choose an alternate caregiver who has formed a bond with the child and who cares for him in a way that strengthens the attachment relationship. Keep schedules flexible, and minimize stress and fear during short separations.
Practice Positive Discipline
The child is always more than their behaviour and positive discipline helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Actions speak louder than words, and children will, eventually, exhibit the behavior that we model for them. Discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful strengthens the connection between parent and child. Rather than focussing on behavior, discover the needs leading to the behavior. Positive dsicipline isn’t another word for ‘permissive’ or ‘indulgent’ and doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect parent – children need to see their parents deal with the full range of emotions to understand how they exist within the context of a loving relationship.
Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
Remaining patient, focussed and balanced while parenting is quite the challenge. Our ability to remain emotionally responsive depends largely on how supported we feel. Create a support network, set realistic goals, put people before things, and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Individual needs within the family will frequently change and meeting them to the greatest extent possible without compromising your physical and emotional health is key. Take precious time for yourself, tune in to your creative energies and try to find the fun!

Attachment Parenting International of Devon is a non-profit attachment parenting support group for families looking for information, friendship, and support regarding gentle parenting choices. They are affiliated to Attachment Parenting International and are funded entirely by donations and memberships.

www.devonapi.com