Attachment parenting (AP), a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears, is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child's socio-emotional development and well-being. Less sensitive and emotionally unavailable parenting or neglect of the child's needs may result in insecure forms of attachment style, which is a risk factor for many mental health problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and eating disorders). In extreme and rare conditions, the child may not form an attachment at all and may suffer from reactive attachment disorder. Children who suffer from reactive attachment disorder have often experienced extremely traumatic childhoods with a lot of neglect and abuse. An example of such a case is for children in orphanages in Romania where babies have been known to be left for 18–20 hours by themselves in their cribs. This is a very rare occurrence, however, and most children have formed at least some kind of attachment style. Principles of attachment parenting aim to increase development of a child's secure attachment and decrease insecure attachment.

When parents are taught to increase their sensitivity to an infant's needs and signals, this increases the development of the child's attachment security. Sears' specific techniques of attachment parenting remain under study.

  • 1. [William Sears (physician)] William Penton Sears (born December 9, 1939) is an American pediatrician and the author or co-author of more than 30 parenting books, most notably several in the "Sears Parenting Library." He is a frequent guest on television talkshows, where he goes by the name Dr. Bill. He and his wife Martha Sears, R.N., are among the leading proponents of the attachment parenting philosophy.
  • 2. [Attachment therapy] Attachment therapy is a controversial category of alternative child mental health interventions intended to treat attachment disorders. The term generally includes accompanying parenting techniques. Other names or particular techniques include "the Evergreen model", "holding time", "rage-reduction", "compression therapy", "rebirthing", "corrective attachment therapy" and Coercive Restraint Therapy. It is found primarily but not exclusively in the
  • 3. [Maternal deprivation] The term maternal deprivation is a catch-phrase summarising the early work of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, John Bowlby on the effects of separating infants and young children from their mother (or mother substitute) although the effect of loss of the mother on the developing child had been considered earlier by Freud and other theorists. Bowlby's work
  • 4. [Mary Ainsworth] Mary Dinsmore Salter Ainsworth (/ˈnswɜrθ/; December 1, 1913 – March 21, 1999) was an American-Canadian developmental psychologist known for her work in early emotional attachment with the Strange Situation design, as well as her work in the development of attachment theory. Ainsworth died at the age of eighty-five from a stroke. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Ainsworth as the 97th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
  • 5. [Reactive attachment disorder] Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is described in clinical literature as a severe and relatively uncommon disorder that can affect children. RAD is characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts. It can take the form of a persistent failure to initiate or respond to most social interactions in a
  • 6. [John Bowlby] Edward John Mostyn Bowlby (/ˈblbi/; 26 February 1907 – 2 September 1990) was a British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, notable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bowlby as the 49th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
  • 7. [Strange situation] The Strange situation is a procedure devised by Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to observe attachment relationships between a caregiver and child. It applies to children between the age of nine and 18 months. Broadly speaking, the attachment styles were (1) secure, (2) insecure (ambivalent and avoidance). Later Mary Main and her husband Erik Hesse introduce the 3rd category, Disorganized.
  • 8. [Judith Warner] Judith Warner (born July 4, 1965) is an American writer.
    Warner is the author of a range of nonfiction books, among them You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America (with Howard Dean) and the bestselling biography Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story. A former special correspondent for Newsweek in
  • 9. [Attachment theory] Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term interpersonal relationships between humans. However, "attachment theory is not formulated as a general theory of relationships. It addresses only a specific facet" (Waters et al. 2005: 81): how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving
  • 10. [Parenting] Parenting or child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, financial, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.
  • 11. [Sudden infant death syndrome] Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death or crib death, is the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age. It requires that the death remains unexplained even after a thorough autopsy and detailed death scene investigation. SIDS usually occurs during sleep. Typically death occurs between the hours of 00:00 and 09:00. There is usually no evidence of struggle and no noise produced.
  • 12. [U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission] The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent agency of the United States government. It was created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act. The CPSC is an agency that reports to Congress and the President and is not part of any other department or agency in the federal government. The
  • 13. [Developmental psychology] Developmental psychology is the scientific study of how and why human beings change over the course of their life. Originally concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to include adolescence, adult development, aging, and the entire lifespan. This field examines change across a broad range of topics including: motor skills, cognitive development, executive functions, moral understanding, language acquisition, social change, personality, emotional development, self-concept and identity formation.
  • 14. [Pediatrics] Pediatrics (also spelled paediatrics or pædiatrics) is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants, children, and adolescents, and the age limit usually ranges from birth up to 18 years of age (in some places until completion of secondary education, and until age 21 in the United States). A medical practitioner
  • 15. [Sigmund Freud] Sigmund Freud (/frɔɪd/; German pronunciation: [ˈziːkmʊnt ˈfʁɔʏ̯t]; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist, now known as the father of psychoanalysis. Freud qualified as a doctor of medicine at the University of Vienna in 1881, and then carried out research into cerebral palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy
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