Aware Parenting: Is just another name for Attachment Parenting?

One thing our generation does differently that previous generation is our liberal use of parenting is labels. There’s ‘attachment parenting’, ‘good-enough parenting’, ‘helicopter parenting’ ‘positive parenting’ ‘conscious parenting’ ‘slow parenting’. The list goes on. But one of the newest parenting trends to emerge is ‘aware parenting’.

Aware parenting was founded by Dr Aletha Solter, a Swiss-American development psychologist who is known internationally for her work in attachment, trauma and non-punitive discipline. While it has its roots in attachment parenting, there is a major aspect of Aware Parenting that sets it apart from any other.

The difference between attachment and aware parenting is that it views crying not only as a way for your baby to communicate that they are hungry, tired, wet etc, but it is also seen to have a stress-release function. When your baby cries (and you know their immediate needs have been met) you hold them close and allow them to cry in a safe place.

Resistance to aware parenting has emerged because it seems to fly in the face of traditional parenting, in that you should stop your baby from crying, not encourage it. But aware parenting experts argue that it is a more intuitive multi-dimensional approach than traditional methods of parenting because it allows the release of emotions and stress in a completely natural way.

The aware parenting philosophy maintains that the process of crying helps to release stress hormones that have built up. These are then released through their tears and sweat while they cry. Aware parenting experts maintain that it will help release tension from birth trauma, or even just the tension that has built up from travelling down the birth canal.

It has been said that it is helpful to balance over stimulation that newborns experience everyday, from new faces and places, bright lights and traffic noise, general household noise from telephones, washing machines, and televisions. Babies are also sensitive to the emotional states of their siblings, parents or caregivers. Allowing a safe place for the baby to cry helps them release the built up stress and tension.

There is some controversy around Aware Parenting in that some experts have suggested that it may be advocating controlled crying, or leaving the baby to ‘cry it out’. However, as it has its roots in attachment parenting the baby is not left alone to cry, rather it is takes comfort in its mothers’ arms while it goes through the process. Aware parenting experts maintain that it is about connection; hold your baby close, don’t try to do other things, provide strong eye contact, without shushing or trying to make them stop.

Being present and loving in times of intense emotion, and acknowledging the other purposes of crying is what defines this parenting style and sets it apart from other non-traditional styles.

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