The six stages of attachment parenting

Susan Stiffelman, MFT, explains the six stages that parents can follow to raise their children according to the principles of the attachment parenting theory. These stages come from Dr. Gordon Neufeld's lengthy study of parent-child attachment, and how it can result in independent, fulfilled children.
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The six stages of attachment parenting

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Neufeld has a wonderful model where he talks about the six stages that a child moves through in the first six years of life on this journey of deeply and securely attaching to their parent. The first stage is proximity. It's the state of closeness and connection in a physical sense, initially. The second is sameness. That is at around the age of two. The third stage is belonging or loyalty. The sense that the three year old has that we are on their side. There is a possessive quality to that stage. The fourth stage is significance. The child knows that they are cherished for who they are, as is. The fifth is love. It is the unadulterated love that we have for them that is not attached to accomplishments or achievements or behavior. The final stage, from six onward is being known. This is a child who confides in you. All of these stages -- And by the way, it's not just that it happens in the first six years of life. We keep replenishing and nourishing all through our parenting experiences through adulthood. These stages are a way to fortify the connection and strengthen in all kinds of ways. Let the child know that the solid, closeness that they share with a parent is permanent. They can lean and rely on it to get them through life.

Susan Stiffelman, MFT, explains the six stages that parents can follow to raise their children according to the principles of the attachment parenting theory. These stages come from Dr. Gordon Neufeld's lengthy study of parent-child attachment, and how it can result in independent, fulfilled children.

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Susan Stiffelman, MFT

Author & Therapist

Susan Stiffelman is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and the weekly parenting advice columnist at the Huffington Post. You can sign up for Susan's free parenting newsletter. 

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