attachment parenting after two years old (gentle disciplining, positive potty training, etc)

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If you have watched my journey into motherhood, you know that I am very promoting towards attachment parenting. Those of you who don’t know what attachment parenting is, it is to focus parenting on securing attachment with your child. It varies in stages from skin to skin after the baby is born, exclusive breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and positive disciplining. You have to learn how to parent on your own, but for myself, I found that trusting my motherly instincts had lead me to feel the most comfortable as a mom. And becoming a mother at 20 years old, I felt like it was the best choice I had made. Again, you do you! But this is what I did for me, and for us. It’s what felt right, and it still continues to be right.

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Does attachment parenting make a child more dependent on a parent? No, it actually does the opposite. For example, I have two sons, who are currently five and three years old. My five year old was born very independent. I can only assume this was from a very easy and relaxing birth. We had immediate skin to skin, and breastfed like a breeze. Again to today, he’s a social butterfly and so very outgoing. My three year old, had a very traumatic birth. I hemorrhaged, and nearly did not make it. I had a medical emergency interfere with being able to hold him immediately after birth, and the sound of his cries still affects me. He was severely attached the moment he was born, onwards. Now, this wasn’t a “problem”. I understood that this was his way of saying, he wants to feel safe. He felt safe with me, and I was okay with that. I loved him even harder, I held him even longer. After the age of 2 years old, he began to become this independent little guy. By 2 1/2 years old, he was a social butterfly, and so independent. He became confident, it just took a little time.

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Now with both of my boys, I have allowed them to wean off breastfeeding themselves. I have encouraged it, but I’ve allowed them to decide when it was time to slowly let it go. I would pick parts of the day that I would eliminate it. Through the night was the first and foremost, because it’s absolutely the hardest (for me at least). Then, I would eliminate it through the day, and only leave it for nap time only. Nap time only would be the last to let go, and usually when I would stop nursing them to sleep, they would give up naps all together. Hudson still has 1 nap a day, and sometimes he asks to nurse and others he falls asleep on his own. Both were able to wean off without forcing them (again, this is just how I did so).

Potty training, now that is a whole other ball game! Leoh was so easy to teach this to, besides pooping. That was a tough one with him. But he got it, and it felt like it took no time at all and A LOT of rewarding. I wrapped up little £1 (because we lived in the UK at the time) toys, and would give him a present to open every time he did good. It may have been a little sweet, or a little toy, but it got him going. Now, I tried this with Hudson initially, and it did NOT work. I began to get frustrated, but then I reminded myself, patience. It’s about being comfortable for him to do so, and that it’s exciting. He isn’t much of a “present” kid, but he LOVES chocolate. I got a little pack of Reeces, and every time he did, he would get one. It took 2 days to get peeing down, and then about two weeks to get the pooping down. I started potty training him in October, and its the middle of November now, he has zero mistakes (unless its a real accident that he held his pee too long), and only wears pull ups at night (although he wakes up to go pee in the night and pees as soon as he wakes up). We have one last pack of pull ups, and then I believe he will be able to go dry through the whole night. I made sure I was very calm with him during potty training, because although some moments would get very frustrating and difficult during the process, I knew that he was learning.

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Gentle disciplining has been the one that has once again, shown me that this is the most vital for our family. Now, like I said before, my sons are totally different. They also know how to push my buttons in different ways, and I’m going through different stages with both of them. It can be difficult, and mentally draining. Where my eldest exceeds, my youngest struggles, and vice versa. It can wear me down as a mom, and some days I feel so defeated because up until recently, I was doing this on my own as a single parent. I sometimes need that reminder on how to handle these new phases with my kids, and what discipline methods work best for us. Gentle discipline, by far, always has the best outcome. Like we teach our children, to think before we react, we have to do the same. Recently, I had moments felt like I was coming to my wits end with my boys. They both had been so disrespectful at two separate moments, that I felt so defeated and as if, this just wasn’t them. With my eldest, I didn’t take into consideration that he also was very tired from the night before that he had been up late since it was a weekend. And with my youngest, I focused completely on ways that could be affective in getting through to him. I knew me getting upset and flustered was NOT helping, and I had to learn how to control that because I had to show HIM the right way to react. So, I began changing the way I was reacting. After one incident, I got onto his level and spoke to him politely. He listened, and he understood. He took it in, and instead of having a “tantrum”, he responded in a good manor. Ever since that moment, I was taken back because where I would get flustered by the tantrum, we learned communication tools that worked. Since that moment, we have been using it every day and have reduced tantrums basically completely. The only moments meltdowns happen is when the two of my crazy boys are arguing, which still, teaching them positive ways to handle conflict is allowing them to do that with each other too. We are in a whole new phase of this as they both are now at the stages where all the little chaos like this starts, so I will follow up on this a few months from now. I do know that this has worked for us, and it’s brought a lot of peace into our daily lives.

I still co-sleep with my kids majority of the time. They are able to sleep on their own and do a couple times a month, as long as I lay down with them initially, but I don’t mind that personally. For the time being, I’m not complaining on how things are because I know that they are two independent little boys who are thriving and excelling past all of my expectations.

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Every day is going to be different, just like every child is different. And it’s whatever suits you best, and your child best to follow what feels right as a parent.