The API’s Eight Principles in full are here: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/principles.php
- Prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting
- Feed with love and respect
- Respond with sensitivity
- Use nurturing touch
- Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
- Provide consistent and loving care
- Practice positive discipline
- Strive for balance in your personal and family life
Read books. Talk to parents who have children you like and relationships you wish for with your kids. Consult with a therapist; clear out your own baggage and run situations past a neutral third party.
2. Feed with respect and love
Hopefully, you’ve been doing this all along. Incorporate more education. Explain why what they eat is important. Educate your kids how processed food is engineered to appeal to our natural desire for fat, sugar and salt. Follow their eating rhythms. Model good food behavior yourself (have an issue there? Back to the books or therapist or self-help group for you!)
3. Respond with sensitivity.
Teens can be confused and confusing. Their behavior can cause us and them embarrassment. Perhaps they were going for glamorous, not strip club, but they are still working out the fine points. Ask questions and don’t feel like you need to know everything. Be OK with being the structure they need to push away from. Remember their brains are reorganizing (yes, go research that) and their bodies are morphing. They don’t know who they are any more than we do. That Martian who replaced your kid is just as startling to them. Love the beautiful being in the midst of the chaos even if you aren’t sure what’s going on in there.
4. Use nurturing touch
We don’t touch our teens enough. Our kids need to know that they can get nurturing touch (a basic need of the human body) without being in a sexual situation. One great side effect of binge watching together was the “puppy pile” on the couch; it was fine to get some mom or dad snuggle time while we wasted a snowy afternoon in front of the TV. Keep kissing your kids good night and hugging them, even if it becomes a joke.
5. Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
Teen sleep patterns can be different from the rest of the family. This has a physiological basis and is one of the main objections I have to high school. Teens naturally stay up late and sleep in. Trying to wrangle their bodies into a more societally acceptable rhythm is costly to their health. There are ways to make sure your kids are in the house and unable to be on their devices after a certain time (when mom and dad need to be sleeping so they can function). Use your parental controls on those devices and let your kids read all night, write all night or craft all night, but not text and watch porn all night. Then let them sleep in.
6. Provide consistent and loving care
This is what you have always strived to do. If you’re having troubles with that, get thee to therapy.
7. Practice positive discipline
Talk it out. State what is objectionable. Ask why it happened. How can the wrong-doer make amends? How do we move forward? Wonderful learning happens when mistakes are made.
8. Strive for balance in your personal and professional life
As that old chestnut goes: children learn what they live. As parents, we need to earn the respect and admiration of our children; after the age of nine or ten they start catching on if we’re being hypocrites. Are you the kind of person you want your child to be? Again, it’s all about you, the parent. Are you taking good care of yourself? Are your needs getting met? Are you aware of places in your life where you need some help? Are your behaviors and values in line with what you are asking of your teens’ behaviors? Are you walking your talk? Are you treating your children with the same respect you ask from them?
These principles apply to teens as well as babies. We must assume that our child is asking for something important in every behavior they exhibit. If there is something amiss then we need to look to our supports for help. And, in their twenties we get to learn how to be parents to grown adults. Very exciting stuff ahead!