Attachment-Focused Parenting [Hughes, D.A.]

Attachment-Focused Parenting [Hughes, D.A.]

– it is about connection, rather than correction
– the occurs is upon exploring motives of behaviour
– this minimises testing of parental authority

– attachment theory focuses upon the “family system”
– & is therefore more than just evaluating the behaviour of the child
– attachment-focused parenting is more concerned with human development while providing the child with basic needs for security, safety & predictability:
– love
– support
– communication
– guidance within boundaries / parental expectations
[this is a richer form of parenting & is more than just reinforcement of good & bad behaviour by the chid]

– the human brain & it’s development thrives on good relationships
– stress is bad for the brain’s development

– parenting is a balancing act, which allows the child to move between:
– dependence/independence
– freedom to choose / follow rules
– autonomy / emotional intimacy
– safety / exploration
[Hughes describes this as “a dance”

– parent-child interactions are always reciprocal, with the following aims:
– understand the meaning of behaviour
– to decide the appropriate response
– to ultimately, with experience, choose the wiser, more effective options
[note how the aims apply to both parent & child]

– types of attachment:
1) secure (applies to 2/3 kids)
2) organised, but avoidant (minimal reliance on parents; maximum self-reliance)
3) organised, but ambivalent (maximum reliance on parents; minimum self-reliance)
4) disorganised (minimal reliance on parents, minimal self-reliance)

Note: the most important predictor of a child’s attachment pattern is the attachment patterns of the parents

Hughes outlines the PLACE parenting approach:
– P for playfulness
– L for love
– A for acceptance
– C for curiosity
– E for empathy

He says parents are well-served by adopting the following strategies:
– engage in a story-telling form of dialogue rather than lectures/advice
– develop in the child a reflective ability by you yourself – the parent – sharing information of an “autobiographical” nature about yourself
– try harder to perceive the inner life of the child differently & more empathically
– avoid blame
– engage in relationship repair if/when necessary immediately

In relation to a situation which the child is experiencing difficulty engaging with, Hughes recommends the following:
– parent to persist supporting the child
– but without anger, power struggles, rewards, punishments
– parent to instead accept difficult responses
– instead, respond with curiosity to understand (use PLACE)
– fore .g. “Help me to understand what it is you are going through…”
– instead discuss further difficult situations with partner/therapist
– time-in, not time-out, including when child is angry
– parent to initiate soothing – without rejection – both physical & psychological soothing
– safeguard sleep – include a going to bed & wake-up ritual
– safeguard positive family atmosphere – do not react in kind to negative emotions (this establishes a negative, vicious & escalating cycle)
– parents need to resolve personal attachment issues separately

Home environment should be a structured balance of the following:
– active/quiet activity
– interactive/solitary
– play/chores
[Hughes notes that too much free time tends to generate anxiety]
[where possible, reduce choices]
[home should be about “gentle supervision” – simply being “near & aware” – within an overarching positive emotional climate]


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