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Attachment Theory and Why it Matters

Anyone who has taken a Psychology course knows about attachment theory and developmental psychology. Studying monkeys and children for
decades have shown us that parental response and nurture can override and affect the brains of our youth.

Neuroscience research also supports that our environment and lifestyle can shape and alter parts of our brain that are active and the neuron growth we can have. We now know that our brains are plastic, flexible organs that generate new cells based on blood flow and exposure that our environment creates. What does this mean? Essentially, we have the power to alter and shape our minds and the minds of our children. If we have an overly negative, combative, or anxious child, we have the power as parents to show our children how to overcome and navigate their lives in a positive, confident way.

Be the Change You Want to See (In Your Kids)

However, the problem is, as parents, we don’t always have these tools ourselves. Most of us have been groomed by our past to overwork and overschedule as our claim to fame. We’ve been conditioned to think that being busy is what makes us successful. The harder we work, the busier we are, and the more likely we will be great.This kind of thinking has created a parenting generation that was burnt out and stressed out before the pandemic and is flat-out struggling right now. We are exhausted. Our children’s emotional needs have grown, and social media has flooded us with information on what we need to do.

The reality of what we need to do is pretty simple. The most powerful, most effective way to teach our children is to model for them. We need to walk the walk to get them to navigate and balance out the negativity.

Oh If It Were Only So Simple

Being balanced and present is difficult as the demands on parents continue to exhaust us. I personally understand the demands of being a mom and sympathize with the working woman. With that said, self-care and balance is not just a suggestion but a necessity. We need to pay attention to ourselves and ensure that we are rested, fed, nourished, and balanced because our children need us to be all of these things. If we don’t prioritize these things, we burn out, flame our negativity and exhaustion on them, and they are left detached, feeling insecure about who they are and what they need to do to have a better mindset.

As a parent of two elementary-aged children myself, I know the struggle is real. I am not always aware of my actions or how they affect the voice my children take on. As parents, we need to be confident and positive. We need to be balanced in what we put on our plates to be present and available for our children. This past week was a week I let myself burn out and go to the negative. I over-committed to social events, overscheduled presentations and work commitments, and was not available for my children in the way I needed to be. I let my self-care go to the wayside-I did not work out, sleep well, or set my intentions. By Friday, I was irritable, exhausted, and snapping at my children.

Going Forward

So this Monday, all I can do is repair and reset. I will start by talking to my children about how emotions have affected my behavior and model the self-care practice. We will connect at night before bed, so they know I am present, interested, and balanced. It is important for them to feel that positive energy instead of the energy of my exhaustion.

I beg you to do the same. Think of the times you have been short, exhausted, and modeled that stress. Determine what you need to alter for yourself to be more balanced. Do you need more exercise, more support at home, more sleep? Make a goal to address that one piece this week and see how you feel. And know-your kids are watching you.