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.FULL ARTICLE