Some notes on Attachment and “Childhood Fears”, compiled by Moira Eastman

A response to our previous post on “The Fear of the Dark” in children… see the following link…

https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/the-fear-of-the-dark-by-john-cowan/

 

I must admit that I have a different understanding of children’s fear of the dark.

When I was a child–I was born in 1940 in Australia–the Second World War had started, and one of my earliest memories is that I KNEW that, after dark, Japanese soldiers–the enemy– were behind the garage. We had an outside toilet, built on to the end of the garage. I was terrified to go outside to the toilet at night. I’m amazed that no-one ever asked me what I was afraid of or why I was afraid. they thought my fear was irrational

But my understanding of these ‘irrational fears’ of childhood has been altered by my understanding of attachment theory.

I am posting some notes on my current understanding of children’s fear of the dark.

Bowlby on the attachment behavioural system

‘Once we postulate the presence within the organism of an attachment behavioural system regarded as the product of evolution and having protection as its biological function, many of the puzzles that have perplexed students of human relationships are found to be soluble. . . An urge to keep proximity or accessibility to someone seen as stronger and wiser, and who if responsive is deeply loved, comes to be recognised as an integral part of human nature and as having a vital role to play in life. Not only does its effective operation bring with it a strong feeling of security and contentment, but its temporary or long-term frustration causes acute or chronic anxiety and discontent. When seen in this light, the urge to keep proximity is to be respected, valued, and nurtured as making for potential strength, instead of being looked down upon, as so often hitherto, as a sign of inherent weakness. (Bowlby, 1991, p. 293 of postscript to Attachment Across the Life Cycle)

Attachment involves four distinct but interrelated classes of behaviour

[57] ‘Bowlby (1982) defined attachment in terms of four distinct but interrelated classes of behaviour: proximity maintenance, safe haven, separation distress, and secure base. These behaviours are readily observable in 1-year-old infants in relation to their primary caregivers (usually mothers). The infant continuously monitors the caregiver’s wherabouts and makes any adjustments necessary for maintaining the desired degree of proximity, retreats to her as a haven of safety in the event of a perceived threat, is actively resistant to and distressed by separations from her, and uses her as a base of security from which to explore the environment. Infants often direct one of more of these behaviours toward individuals to whom they are not attached. Importantly, it is the selective orientation of all these behaviours toward a specific individual that defines attachment. (From Hazan et al. 2004) .

Infant attachment behaviours: behaviours that maintain proximity to the mother

Bowlby noted that infants all around the globe manifest five behaviours that help keep the mother and infant together. They are: crying, sucking, clinging, following and smiling. The first four are also common to other primates. Only chimpanzee infants also smile.

What turns on attachment behaviours? Clues to an increase in danger

There are natural clues to an increase in danger. Infants have evolved to recognise these clues. They do not have to learn them from experience. They are:

  • darkness,
  • being alone,
  • separation from the mother,
  • sudden loud noises,
  • looming figures,
  • unfamiliar environment,
  • the presence of strangers,
  • change in temperature,
  • being sick.

In the past, children’s responses to some of these clues (or cues) to danger—such as fear of the dark—have been considered to be the ‘irrational fears of childhood’. But in hunter-gatherer societies they were clues to increased danger and this increased danger provokes attachment behaviour in the infant and therefore the need to be close to the mother or mothering person.

  • Function. ‘Many aspects of infant and child behaviour and mother-infant interaction seem irrelevant to the modern world, and can only be understood in terms of the evolution of humans in an environment very different from the modern city.’

These fears used to be seen as ‘the irrational fears of childhood’. They make sense only when seen as functional in the environments in which humans evolved.

The environment of evolutionary adaptedness

‘The environment of evolutionary adaptedness’ refers to the environment to which the human species has become adapted through evolution: that is an environment similar to that in which current day hunter-gatherer societies live.

The solution to fear of the dark

Bowlby discovered that the only thing that can ‘terminate’ attachment behaviour such as fear of the dark is closeness to the attachment figure.  So what is required is not explanations to a young child about how there is nothing to fear, but be close, be available.  This is what removes his/her fear.

 

 

Moira Eastman has her own website, essentialmother.com  and is particularly interested in attachment.    Moira works at Mothering Business and studied Sociology of education at Monash University, Melbourne.

She is a member of the group “Mothers at Home Matter”, a UK based group.  “Mothers at Home Matter”  – PO Box 43690 London SE22 9WN
www.mothersathomematter.co.uk – is about redefining values, re-honouring the name “mother” and highlighting children’s developmental needs. It is about understanding the impact of economic forces on the family – mothers and fathers – and campaigning for change. The full aims of the organisation are on their website (see address above). “Mother at Home Matter” are not affiliated to any political party or faith group.

 

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The Fear of the Dark, by John Cowan

Imagination is a wonderful thing – except when you are three years old in a dark room and you can hear something scraping against the window. If the sun was shining, even a toddler would work out that it was just a branch moving in the wind but, after dark, and especially after a couple of hours of peppery television, it’s not surprising if monsters and bogey men are more likely explanations.

Of course, fear of the dark is irrational and silly, but I have too many silly irrational fears of my own to go mocking anyone else’s phobias. Many kids suffer from it, but there are a few things you can do to lay their fears, and the children themselves, to rest.

 

 

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theparentingplace.com/behaviour-and-discpline/the-fear-of-the-dark/

10 Simple Ways to Build an Unbreakable Bond With Your Child, by Angela Pruess

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Our connection to our children means everything.

It means the difference between a confident child and an insecure one. It means the difference between a cooperative child and a defiant one. Our early attachments and ongoing connection to our children fostered through love, nurturance, and guidance is a strong predictor of our child’s success in many areas of life.

We’ve heard a lot about attachment, so the concept and importance of bonding with our baby seems obvious. Just because your little one has grown to become a lot bigger, smellier, and sassier doesn’t mean your bond and connection with them is any less vital to their development. In fact, it continues to be of the utmost importance throughout childhood.

Life with kids is busy. It’s not uncommon at the end of the day to find yourself wondering whether you even sat face to face with your child. Here’s the good news: You’re likely already engaging with your child in activities that promote a strong parent-child relationship.

Reading

We all know reading with children is a simple way to improve their language and reading skills. But research also shows that reading with children actually stimulates patterns of brain development responsible for connection and bonding.

This makes sense when we consider that story time usually involves cuddling, eye contact, and shared emotion. If you make reading together a priority in your home, you are without a doubt connecting with your child.

Art

Engaging in art or craft activities with children is an awesome way to provide not only a fun and enjoyable experience, but a therapeutic one as well. No matter their age, you’ll be hard pressed to find a child who can’t find an art medium that interests him.

When engaged in a creative process with children, we provide an outlet for them to express their thoughts and feelings. This is especially true with younger children, who aren’t yet able to verbalize their complex emotions. When your child has access to acreative outlet, odds are that interactions between the two of you will be more positive.

Music

Whether listening to them play an instrument or dancing to the “Trolls” soundtrack together, music offers lots of benefits for both parent and child, including bringing our awareness into our bodies and into the current moment. Your kids will be practicing mindfulness without even knowing it!

It’s pretty difficult to focus on a mistake at school yesterday or the test coming up tomorrow when we’re busy processing auditory input as well as coordinating our motor skills.

Nature

Feeling stressed? Stress is often a huge barrier to parents engaging with their children. Spending time with your child out in nature will go a long way to increase emotional health and physical well-being for both parties.

Research tells us that exposure to nature reduces our blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, as well as the production of stress hormones. Nature is no joke. Even if you don’t have time to go for a hike, simply water a plant together. These studies show similar effects can be derived from even small amounts of nature.

Play

Play is the language of children, so it only makes sense that we should try to connect with them though something that comes so naturally. When parents enter their child’s world and follow their lead in play, they open up the possibility for many positive outcomes, including taking on a different relationship role and seeing our children from a new perspective.

(To read more of this post, please follow the link below…)

http://www.parent.co/10-simple-ways-to-build-an-unbreakable-bond-with-your-child/

Growing up Maori in NZ: My daily experience of racism at school, playing rugby, at University and at the shops, by an anonymous 18 year old young man

boy-in-classroom-fy

I was 9 and it was the middle of religious education at our state primary school when a lady told our class that God didn’t love the Tuhoe people because they were terrorists. I still remember that day because I wanted to cry I was so angry. I knew she was lying. So I walked out of her class and went to the office and told them I wasn’t going to go to religious education anymore. The teachers rang my mum and she came in and told them that neither me nor my brother were ever going back to religious education.

Sometimes kids would say racist things and I used to try to ignore them a lot. I played rugby for our town and there were some boys in my team who’d call us racist names. One day at training a boy called me a dumb N***** and I had enough and ran at him and punched him.

Well I got in huge trouble. The coach had heard it all but told me it was all my fault for reacting and I need to just ignore it, as usual he never told off the boys who said racist things. I walked off and was crying. My Dad came out onto the field and told off my coach. My coach kept trying to blame me but my Dad told him he was useless and shouldn’t let the other boys abuse us and then expect us to take it.

It was around this time me and my cousin used to be picked on by a group of boys at our school. They’d say racist things about us and we refused to take it, we fought back. Teachers didn’t really do much, we were told to ignore it but it’s hard to ignore someone giving you a hiding. At lunch they’d just chase us and fight us, sometimes 10 to 2 so it was never a fair fight.

One day my cousin left some 4 x 2s in the bushes. He never told me what he’d done but that day at lunch when they were all chasing us he shouted at me to follow him to the bushes. We ran out of the bushes with these pieces of wood and all the boys who’d been about to bash us started screaming and running away. They were very fast and we didn’t even hit any of them. We ended up in the principal’s office and we were the ones in big trouble not the boys who’d been bullying us for ages.

My Dad came in and he argued with the principal and told him that if the school couldn’t guarantee our safety then our family would send in people to the school to make sure we were safe. He meant it and so from then on the school made sure the bullying ended. I left soon after to go to another school anyway and I remember being terrified as I was going to a much bigger school and assumed the bullying was going to be way worse. But when I got there the culture of the school was great and there was no bullying like what we had gone through.

When I started college I didn’t know why but I kept getting put into woodwork and metalwork option courses that I’d never signed up for. I had won an academic scholarship in Year 9 and ended up getting excellence in NCEA 1, 2 and 3, but for a while someone there decided I needed to do a trade. There is nothing wrong with tradie work, I actually love it – that’s what I do during the holidays – but it’s unfair to look at me and decide: Oh yeah OK, that brown kid he can do woodwork even though he asked to do Financial Management.

uncroc-collage

After I got excellence in Year 11, me and a mate got an invite to start going to meetings for excellence students. Well we turned up and the lady asked us what we were doing there because this was a meeting for excellence students. A lot of the Pakeha kids who were there started giggling at us. I can’t remember what we said to her but she never really welcomed us into her meetings. I’ve got to admit we paid no attention in her meetings. A few more times when we’d turn up she’d look at us and ask if we were in the right place. She never remembered our names. We were the only Maori and Pasifika boys there.

Over the years I’d get used to having to defend everything Maori, during class discussions other kids would argue that the Treaty is racist or that Maori scholarships are racist.

Once I got up to say that my scholarship came from my tribe not from the Government and someone shouted out “Hone Harawira” from the back of the class. Being a Maori kid in a mostly Pakeha world, yeah. You’re often put on the spot whether you like it or not. One minute you’re defending your tribe in class. Next minute you get told to lead the haka or speak at a powhiri for the school.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://www.thatsus.co.nz/my-daily-experience-of-racism

Six things every parent should know about Pokémon Go, by Christian Gallen

Pokemon-Go-002

For the first time in history you may hear your kids complain that it’s raining so they can’t go outside and play video games. This is the parents’ guide to the newest social phenomenon that has taken over the world.

1. What is Pokémon Go?

You have probably come across Pokémon before. It’s Japanese for ‘pocket monsters’. You may even be familiar with Pikachu. Pokémon has been around for ages and spans video games, TV shows, a trading card game and now has become super popular because of the smart phone app, Pokémon Go. Chances are your kids are playing it!

2. How does it work?

Pokemon-Go-001-292x300The basic idea of the game is that you travel around the real world and find Pokémon using your device. There are 250 different types of Pokémon out there. If your kid comes home excited about catching Bulbasaur there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not a drug or a disease. It’s a grass type Pokémon with razor leaf attack. You collect them and battle against other users. Your kid doesn’t need hand-eye coordination to catch Pokémon – just a fully-charged smartphone and access to the internet.

This week I saw a group of teenagers running laps around a park with their phones in front of their faces. They were outdoors with their friends, they were exercising and they were playing a video game all at the same time. Weird.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theparentingplace.com/blogs/a-parents-guide-to-pokemon-go/

How to Foster a Positive Self-Image in Your Child (in a World of Social Media Pressure), by Jean Merrill

Autumn fun - lovely girl has a fun in autumn park

When you think of your sweet child fending off social media pressure, does your heart nervously flutter a little?

Does the thought of these negative influences leave you hoping (praying) they’ll solidly, confidently, know themselves and the RIGHT thing to do?

Can we give them the tools to see through negative influences with superman-like laser vision?

Peer pressure is reaching new levels of influence in this digital age, where bullying can happen behind the veiled, impersonal curtain of an electronic device.

By the time our children have their first Facebook account, we hope to have instilled in them enough of a sense of self that they can objectively evaluate any peer-to-peer situation. We hope that they already have a strong foundation in communication skills, and firm grasp of their personal values. We hope that they internally know the right things to do, and are confident in the courage of their convictions.

This will give them the voice required to face interpersonal challenges and the ability to stand up for themselves, and those around them.

We can help our kids develop that strong sense of positive self-image. By starting early, and with a few language tricks, we can plant deep roots from which a strong, independent, confident, sense of self will grow.

Self-image in Toddlerhood. Is that a “Thing?”

Self-image is definitely a “thing” is toddlerhood, and *gasp* even before!  According to Dr. Sears, in his piece 12 Ways to Raise a Confident Child, it is never too early to start, and the sooner the better.  He states that the lack of a positive self-image often leads to behavior problems, and that “In the early years, a child’s concept of self is so intimately tied up with the mother’s concept of herself that a sort of mutual self-worth building goes on.”

So, start with your own sense of self worth.

*Groan* I know, but stay with me here… in the middle of the exhaustingly intense infant and toddler years, taking some time to work on yourself can be a key element in the long-term positive esteem for your whole family.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/strong-kids/positive-self-image.html

The 3 Most Important Things To Say If A Child Discloses Abuse, by Ginger Kadlec

Superhero child against blue sky background

Finding the courage and strength to disclose abuse can be a tough thing for a child to do.

An estimated 73% of children don’t disclose abuse for at least one year. Another 45% don’t tell anyone they are being abused for five years… still others never tell.

A primary factor in children NOT disclosing abuse is that in the large majority of abuse and neglect cases, children know, love or trust the people hurting them. The child doesn’t want to get that person “in trouble” or may fear some type of retribution for “telling”. To learn more about why children suffer in silence, see “10 Reasons Children Don’t Disclose Abuse“.

If a child ever discloses abuse to you, here are the three most important things you can say:

#1: “I believe you.” 

These three simple words are a lifeline to a child. Many children are afraid they won’t be believed, often because their abusers have told them so. This is especially important for MOTHERS to know! Moms, please, please, please (… I beg of you!) always believe your child should s/he ever tell you s/he has been victimized, regardless of who the child alleges is the perpetrator. Children whose mothers do not believe their allegations will often recant and suffer in silence. In cases where abuse exists, it then continues leaving the child feeling unprotected and vulnerable with drastic lifelong implications.

One study showed that 52 percent of those who reported mistreatment to a parent were still being abused a year after the disclosure. ~Psychology Today

A 2012 article from Psychology Today states, “Some (abused children) who do reveal suffer negative consequences, such as being blamed for ‘seducing’ the perpetrator or being accused of lying. One study showed that 52 percent of those who reported mistreatment to a parent were still being abused a year after the disclosure.”

I simply can’t overemphasize the importance of mothers believing their children. The facts will come out in the end, but it is crucial that upon initial disclosure and until proven otherwise that we believe what our children tell us.

#2: “It’s not your fault.”

Abusers place a great amount of blame on their child victims, so children often feel they somehow “caused” their own abuse. They may also have been led to believe they will be in trouble because, again, they think the abuse was their fault. Taking the weight of blame off the child’s shoulders in one of the first steps in that child’s journey of healing.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

5 Ways to Give Your Children a Voice, by Rachel Macy Stafford

Listens

By Rachel Macy Stafford 

1. Stop moving and stop doing when they speak to you

By looking up from the task at hand and looking into your children’s eyes, you are indicating you value their thoughts, no matter how trivial. This provides both a foundation and an invitation for more difficult conversations as they grow.

* Tip: If your days are full and you cannot give your undivided attention whenever your child speaks, make sure there is a time of day when you can be ALL there. Maybe it is at bedtime or right afterschool.

When my older daughter was 3 she began asking for “talk time” at night. It involved ten minutes of her asking innocent questions and telling me trivial things and me giving her my undivided attention.

She is now 12 and we still have “talk time” every night. As one would expect, the questions and topics have become more serious, and I am grateful to be part of the conversation.

2. Respect their words.

Maybe it takes time for them to put their thoughts into words. It’s okay; you don’t have to finish their sentences—they will come. Maybe their opinion is completely nuts. It’s okay; you don’t have to agree. Maybe they remember something differently than the way you do. It’s okay; you don’t have to be “right”. By giving them the time and space to share what’s on their hearts, you are strengthening their voice.

3. Let them speak for themselves whenever possible.

When my children have something they want to tell the coach, the waiter, or the sales clerk, I first let them practice what they want to say and then they are encouraged to speak for themselves.

I will never forget when we were sitting at my child’s fifth grade parent/teacher conference and the teacher asked if we had any concerns. My daughter quietly spoke up to say she loved helping her classmates but there was one student who made her feel very uncomfortable.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://kindnessblog.com/2015/08/27/5-ways-to-give-your-children-a-voice-by-rachel-macy-stafford/

Active Listening: How to Master the Skill That Will Make You a More Effective Parent, by Malinda Carlson.

middle aged mother and teen daughter chatting on bed

middle aged mother and teen daughter chatting on bed

YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!!!!” 

The scream echoes through the house. As does the slam of the bedroom door.

Have you been there?

It’s an all too familiar family scene. It’s after dinner, homework isn’t even close to being done, and a mild reminder about finishing up a book report has turned into WWIII.

My husband and I look at each other. I have steam coming out of my ears. He looks as if he’s witnessed a car crash.

“I just wish he’d listen to me!” I fume as we straighten the pictures on the walls sent rocking by the shockwaves.

Meanwhile my son sulks in his room. “I just wish you guys would listen to me!” he vents.

But I AM listening!

Then again, am I really? 

While I was in grad school where I was getting my Master’s degree in organization development, I learned that not all listening is created equal.

(To read more follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/emotional-intelligence/active-listening.html