Published on

This presentation presents strategies on how to build healthy parent/child relationships, how to discipline effectively, how to maintain attachment during adolescence.

Published in: Health & Medicine
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Tip: Add your own speaker notes here.
  • Tip: Add your own speaker notes here.
  • Tip: Add your own speaker notes here.
  • Attachment

    1. 1. ATTACHMENT: Myths,Truths, Theories, & How ToCreate ItPresented by: Brenda McCreight Ph.D., R.S.W.
    2. 2. Introduction What is attachment? How abuse, neglect, and pre-natal exposure to toxins impact attachment How changing caregivers impacts attachment The brain and attachment How parents can develop positive attachment relationships with their children Maintaining attachment during adolescence
    3. 3. Attachment Theory Formulated primarily by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth to account for the impact of early separation and trauma on the child Is currently the most prominent theory regarding early socio-emotional development Is based on research methods that have been generalized in a way that would not be accepted today Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    4. 4.  Attachment theory is being updated and influenced by developments in neurobiology and by the interaction with other professional research such as neuroscience, psychiatry, traumatology, & developmental theory – but not everyone pays attention to the changes! Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    5. 5.  In the current use of the term, almost any behavior or relationship problem can be *diagnosed* as attachment disorder  . Yet, there is almost no recent or neurodevelopmentally based research on the long term relationship building capacity of children who experience early neglect/abuse + multiple/changing caregivers Children may have many challenging behaviours, but these could be from other disorders such as fasd, adhd, autism, ptsd, etc Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    6. 6. Basic Ideas on How Attachments are Formed The infant is born wired and driven to form and maintain attachments to a caregiver (later we’ll talk about how pre-natal exposure to toxins and other experiences harms this) We have hormones and chemicals that release in our brains to facilitate attachment Attachment is about survival & emotional regulation Babies and children will do whatever is necessary to maintain their attachments and to stay alive – but emotional dysregulation can get in the way of their connection with others The baby uses the attachment figure as a “secure base” Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    7. 7.  All babies try to attach but the security of the attachment depends on how the caregivers respond to the child = if the caregiver is doing it right (or mostly right) – the baby’s brain will develop normally – if the caregiver is neglectful or abusive – the baby will become overwhelmed with stress & trauma and there will be long term problems
    8. 8. Early attachmentexperiences…. Become the groundwork for later emotional development & emotional self regulation Influence how the brain develops, what parts work properly, and how the brain will be physically structured Children learn how relationships work from the early attachments The life long impact of early attachment is reflected in children’s relationships with others, with their self-regulation, and with their emotional openness Help the baby manage stress – this is important because too much stress is harmful to the brain – at any age! Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    9. 9. This says it all…
    10. 10. Attachment behavioursinclude… Proximity Seeking - The baby can leave the parent but will check to see that she is still near and the baby will return when she’s had enough of the world or just needs a reassuring touch. Separation Anxiety – Anxiety/stress that occurs when the attachment figure is absent, abusive, unpredictable, chaotic, or neglectful.
    11. 11. Attachment and the developingbrain… Current neurobiological models of attachment focus on the formation of the right brain (Schore, 1994, 2001a).The right brain is in charge of: Tone of voice Facial expression Gestures Posture Intensity of response Autobiographical memory (remembering significant events) Map of the body (only on this side) Stress Management
    12. 12. It‟s all about interaction… Things like tone of voice, gestures, intensity of response, & stress management are all vital in the way a mom and an infant interact If the infant can’t pick up on these cues, or no one is giving the cues, then the attachment process is at risk of not developing
    13. 13. Attachment dance… Baby fusses or cries, mom automatically touches or soothes, not always noticing that she does this Baby responds by calming – heart beat & breathing smooth out Mom and baby both feel better Parts of both of the brains in both mom and baby light up during this dance Feel good hormones such as oxytocin are released in both mom and baby
    14. 14.  Baby learns to calm when mommy nears From learning to be soothed by mommy, baby transfers the experience to self soothing This is the beginning of emotional self regulation The parts of the brain that handle self regulation are stimulated and set up to work for the rest of baby‟s life
    15. 15. Where do some parents mis-step in this dance? Parent fails to read infant/child cues Fails to respond to the child’s cues Interprets crying as something the child is doing to the parent, rather than as the child displaying a need Turns away from the child when the child is needy Keeps the child close, or pushes child away, according to the needs and mood of the parent, not the needs and mood of the baby
    16. 16. Continued… Rejects or fails to initiate affection with the baby Ridicules the child’s needs Frightens the child by aggressive behaviours or violence or unpredictable behaviours Research indicates that the mother’s behaviour has more influence than the baby’s behaviour or temperament on the development of attachment
    17. 17. Challenges to attachment… Pre-natal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol Neglectful parenting Abusive parenting Unresponsive/un- nurturing/robotic parenting Chaotic or violent environment Multiple/changing caregivers
    18. 18. Pre-natal exposure Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is the diagnostic term used to identify the permanent impact of alcohol on the formation of the embryonic and fetal brain. It is called a Disorder because it alters the way the brain forms which results in permanent long term challenges in learning, in behaviour, in relationship formation and in emotional regulation. It is considered to be part of a spectrum of disorders because every brain is unique and the damage done to the brain can be different in different people.
    19. 19. FASD characteristics arelifelong…- Learning disabilities- Very little impulse control- Inability to relate behaviour to consequences- Very forgetful- Poor boundaries- Often has concurrent adhd- Challenges with planning or following through with plans- Can’t take what is learned in one situation and apply it to another- Poor social/peer skills due to immature social behaviours - Can’t manage time or money or most abstract concepts – concretethinkers- Doesn’t recognize or respond to patterns of behaviour- Emotional dysregulation
    20. 20.  These characteristics, beginning in infancy, can make it impossible for the baby to be part of the dance The baby may not perceive that the mommy always responds The baby may not be able to take what she has learned about being soothed by mommy and generalizing the experience to being able to self soothe Research shows that fasd interferes with the baby‟s ability to manage stress Therefore, there is no capacity to develop emotional self regulationBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    21. 21.  The same parts of the brain that are harmed by neglect and abuse are also harmed by fasd. If the attachment relationship is weak, it can make the symptoms of fasd worse Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    22. 22. Neglectful and/or abusiveparenting… When the quality of the parenting is poor, or the baby is neglected, or the baby is abused…. the baby experiences stress. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment (which causes infant stress) and later-life health and well-being.• Neglect, abuse, and living in violence all cause infant/childhood stress and are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor health and poor quality of life in adolescence and adulthood.• Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    23. 23. ACE study findings…
    24. 24. Developmental Dysfunction and Mental HealthDisorders Studies show that children with a history of abuse or neglect, have these problems: significant problems in developmental and cognitive domains, ultimately affecting academicability Specific deficits in attention, in abstract reasoning, in impulse control, and in long- term memory for verbal information Significant decrease in IQ Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    25. 25. Even more… Development of adolescent and adult mental health disorders At high risk for suicidal thoughts By eight years of age, approximately 10% of maltreated children experience suicidal ideation Re-victimization throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.• Dysfunctional Parenting and dysfunctional adolescent and adult relationships A childhood history of maltreatment is associated with dysfunctional interpersonal relations in adulthood. Compared to Adults with a childhood history of abuse and neglect report twice as many subsequent sexual assaults, higher rates of domestic violence, and four times the rat of self-harm Inappropriate maternal dependence on children for emotional fulfillment Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    26. 26. Non-nurturing… Let’s start by explaining what nurturing does: Nurturing helps to develop a larger hippocampus,(the brain region important for learning, memory and stress management)• Researchers found a connection between early social experiences (parent/child interaction) and the volume of the amygdala, (the brain region that regulates the processing and memory of emotional experiences).• Researchers also found that children raised in a nurturing environment do better in school and are more emotionally developed than their non- nurtured peers.
    27. 27. Therefore… Babies who don’t receive adequate nurturing are at high risk of not achieving full brain development They will do poorly in school both academically and socially They will not develop emotional regulation, and this will lead to even more problems in life Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    28. 28. Why do parents fail tonurture? The primary parent is in an abusive relationship The primary parent is in a violent and/or deprived environment The primary parent has an addiction problem The primary has an attachment disorder The primary parent has a mental health challenge (including depression) or a developmental delay that precludes nurturing Primary parent lacks social support with difficult baby or in hard times The primary parent was abused/neglected as a child Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    29. 29. Changing caregivers… Babies can adjust to some changes in caregivers as long as the primary caregiver is stable and available Babies can adjust to the other parent, to sitters, to grandparents etc Babies cannot adjust to multiple strangers without a primary caregiver to return to Babies cannot adjust to continual loss of caregivers Each move to a new caregiver places the baby under stress (and now we know what stress does to the baby’s brain) Eventually the baby will stop giving attachment cues and will manage the stress by either withdrawal or by continued distress
    30. 30. Creating attachment ininfants…it isn‟t rocket science! Remember – the baby is born ready to begin the attachment process – she wants to attach and she wants to belong to the primary caregiver The primary caregiver doesn’t have to be perfect to create a healthy attachment – she only has to be good enough most of the time Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    31. 31. Support for the mom… Healthy attachment with your baby means taking care of yourself Its important to take care of yourself in order to build a secure attachment bond with your infant. Try to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can make you irritable and even crazy. Try to trade night duty (on for two nights, off for two nights) with the other parent or with another adult, or to have at least one morning a week to sleep late. Ask for help around the house. You can’t do it all.• Take a break from the baby on occasion. Caring for a baby is demanding and can wear you out – so leave the baby with a safe adult once in a while so you can take an hour in a coffee shop ,go for a walk alone or with a friend, go to a yoga class, or do something you want to do.• Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    32. 32. Not recommended…
    33. 33. Continued… Find ways to calm yourself in stressful times. The baby will pick up on your stress – if you are crying, the baby will cry too. Learn some breathing exercises to help you calm down and de-stress your brain. Its okay to let your baby cry a minute longer so that you can take a deep breath before picking your baby up and trying to soothe him or her. Find reliable help. Don’t think you have to do it all yourself. Try to get help from your spouse, your friends, your family members, or a babysitter to help hold or care for your baby during fussy times of the day. Take a walk. Get up and move. It’s hard to move if you feel depressed but do it anyway – it will help you de-stress.
    34. 34. Self regulation for parents… The key to developing or enhancing your self-regulatory capacity is >>>>>>>> learn how to manage your own stress and the problems it creates!
    35. 35. Some famous people‟s thoughts onstress I have been through some terrible things, some of which actually happened – Mark Twain Drop the idea that you are Atlas carrying the world on your shoulders. The world will go on without you. Don’t take yourself so seriously – Norma Vincent Peale When I hear someone sigh “Life is hard” I am always tempted to ask “Compared to what?” One must pick and choose one’s battles in life or risk living in many emotional foxholes – Donald S. Neviaser If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment – Marcus Aurelius
    36. 36. Stress is a biological responseto:An eventA taskA personA thoughtA behaviorA situationA relationshipBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    37. 37. Sudden stress , as well aschronic stress, causes: Increased heart rate Reduced immune function Increased breathing (lungs dilate) Decreased digestive activity Liver releases glucose for energy Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    38. 38. • Stress overwhelms and over activates the limbic system• Information that is coming in from the external world is misunderstood or misinterpreted• The brain is looking for trouble• This makes events, feelings, relationships, tasks etc seem to important, too imminent, too frightening, to threatening, too difficult, and too un-resoveable• Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    39. 39. Chronic stress makes all ofthese stop working…
    40. 40. Chronic stress can lead toanxiety…
    41. 41. Chronic anxiety can lead to… Constant worrying Feeling like your anxiety or worry is beyond your control Intrusive thoughts about that make you feel anxious Can’t tolerate any lack of structure or unanticipated change Constant feelings of dread or edginess Can’t relax Can’t focus or concentrate Even small tasks feel overwhelming Certain situations or places trigger anxiety without any accompanying behaviour or event Physical tension throughout the body resulting in joint or muscle pain Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    42. 42. Little things mean a lot… Remember – the anxiety trigger doesn‟t have to be a real threat or a big deal It can be a „here we go again” response to a stressor ie phone ringing = call from angry school principal or police so heart starts racing and the anxiety cycle kicks inBrenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    43. 43. And here‟s what happensnext… Short term memory problems Inability to concentrate Poor judgment, can‟t evaluate Focusing on the negative Anxious, worrying thought Irritability Inability to relax Feeling overwhelmed Sense of loneliness and isolation Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    44. 44. Stress can lead to, or co-existwith depression…
    45. 45. Symptoms of depression… Depressed mood (in children this can present as an irritable mood and can also lead to aggressive behavior) and / or Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day Impairment in functioning Must be present for two weeks Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    46. 46. Still more… Fatigue or loss of energy Diminished ability to think or concentrate Significant weight change Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation (with or without a plan) Sleep disorder Inability to concentrate Loss of interest Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    47. 47.  Your child and you may both be suffering from depression. If you think you or anyone in your family has any or all of these symptoms, please seek professional help right away. In addition to professional help, you might also like to consider some of these methods that you can do on your own, or that will require a licensed and trained professional. Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    48. 48.  Exercise daily, even if only for 15 minutes, 30 minutes daily is great Have firm boundaries about what you can, will, and won’t do for others and what you can, will, and won’t tolerate in others Meditate daily, a 5 minute meditation is better than no meditation but a 15 or 30 minute meditation is super Talk about your feelings with someone else who is in the same boat – that is, another parent, or attend a support group either in person or online Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    49. 49.  Yoga Biofeedback Neurofeedback EMDR Cognitive Behavioral Therapy EFT (Tapping) There are many good therapies – find the one that works for you Put yourself first – you are the basis of the family – if you sink, all will sink
    50. 50. Reminder… You have stress, depression, anxiety – your child does, too – that is what happens to people when their emotional states are not self-regulated Monitor your own capacity to self-regulate so that a) you can continue to be healthy and emotionally stable b) you can role model emotional health to your child c) the rest of your family can continue to enjoy life Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    51. 51. Parenting for healthyattachment If you have parented your child from conception, attachment should not be a problem and the following strategies will be effective If your child has experienced disruptive attachment relationships, then the same strategies will be effective in the long run, but nothing will make things happen as fast as you would like – these strategies will build the neural circuits that should have been built in her first year of life, but this will be a long process – so be patient and don’t give up!!!! Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    52. 52. Parenting strategies withbabies… Hold your baby – carry him in your arms, or in a sling/carrier. He needs to feel your heart beating. Read and talk to your baby – the sound of your voice is her cue that the world is safe. Reading to her expands the vocabulary she hears and triggers more neurons to start firing. Play games ie hide and seek, or this little piggy. It provides fun and happy hormones as well as teaching the baby how to get excited and how to calm down again. Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    53. 53. Continued… Kiss the baby – it floods the brains of both mom and baby with oxytocin (a feel good hormone) Talk to the baby when you leave the room - this teaches him that you still exist when you aren‟t in sight Massage the baby – the stimulation on the skin is good for the baby and is calming Give the baby warm, soothing bathes – these promote the same things as massage.Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    54. 54. MOST IMPORTANTLY>>> Be present – emotionally, physically, psychologically Be safe – calm, capable, stable Be predictable – reliable, constant Be responsive – learn what your baby needs and provide it Be loving – demonstrate the love through touch, voice, care Be protective - keep the environment safe – no violence, no chaos, no angry voices Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    55. 55. Pre-school & early childhoodyears… Tell her you love her every day Show him you love him every day, hug, play, laugh, smile, eye contact Listen to the feelings underneath the words she uses Show respect for his thoughts and opinions by listening to them and not ridiculing what he thinks Include your child in discussions about what is happening in the family – family vacations, friends visiting, school Tell your child when plans change Touch your child affectionately with hugs, pats on the back, sitting together to read, cuddling on the couch Model what you want your child to learn about kindness, manners, etc Give her age-appropriate responsibilities at home Acknowledge & praise your child when he does things well or right or at least tries Don’t yell, insult, shame, spank, or use sarcasm
    56. 56. Later childhood… Everything we‟ve already talked about can continue at an age appropriate level Decide what to modify and what to drop or add by the cues from the child ie “Don‟t hug me in front of my friends!!!” or wanting to play with the parent in different ways such as going to movies or bowling or playing board games instead of cuddling on the couch or going to a park.Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    57. 57. Some things you shouldn‟tdo… Don’t hit Don’t spank Don’t ridicule Don’t over punish Don’t try to win These things don’t work, and some are not legal! Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    58. 58. Discipline… If you have parented your child from conception – then discipline will be easier and more effective If you have started parenting your child at a later stage in her life – choose what you will consequence and be prepared to let lots of things go This is a one step at a time process for children who require later stage help with emotional regulation development Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    59. 59. Continued… Re-direct to an activity that is acceptable to you ie “No, you can’t have a cookie now so put them back – would you like an apple?” If the child will only accept a cookie – then too bad, stay firm Time in – have your child sit near you ie at the kitchen table playing with leggo or colouring or playing with an electronic thingy – only until the child is calm Use a naughty chair – have the child sit in a specific location – until he has calmed – the older child version of this is to send him to his room – don’t worry if the door is slammed on the way – that’s just his way of discharging cortisol Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    60. 60. Continued…• Take away a desired activity or item – but don’t take away something that you can’t return or that will cause greater problem• Add chores that can be done without your supervision and can be easily observed as completed ie rake the yard till you have 3 bags of leaves• The point of discipline is to make a point – not to win• Use family meetings as a time to negotiate changing rules – don’t do it in the moment• Stay calm and stay firm• Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    61. 61. Attachment in the teenyears… This is a time of transition and change What worked at 10 won’t work at 14 This is a natural time of de-tachment – the teen is in a life stage in which she is moving toward independence – she has a biological drive to seek life beyond the family Attachment and the relationship between parent and child is vital at this life stage Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    62. 62. Relationship strategies… Recognize that the teen still needs the you Stay available by being supportive of positive endeavors, and be actively involved wherever you can Help him plan for the big transitions, such as first year of high school – what clothes should he have? What sports does he want to play? Who are his friends? Listen to her concerns about social approval and peer pressure. Talk about values – movies and tv shows are a good starting point for such conversations Give reasons for the limits you set – don’t expect him to like them, but listen to his reasons against them
    63. 63. Continued… Just because a mood is caused by a shifting hormone doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter – be supportive of fears and feelings Find things you can still do together – go to movies, go bowling, take short trips, go shopping Pay attention to the kids your kid is hanging out with Try to keep her engaged in healthy activities Recognize the never ending importance of your relationship with their teen for adjustment, despite her increasing disinterest in family life and her increasing interest in peers Be aware of, and monitor, his involvement with various peer groups and their activities at school Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    64. 64. Continued… Understand that as adolescents move into romantic relationships they can still benefit from parents’ emotional support and guidance. Talk openly about sex and sexual health Be available to discuss feelings, values and decision making Negotiate when possible Eat meals together What do you do to stay connected to your teen? Brenda McCreight Ph.D. Workshop series
    65. 65. Disciplining from an attachment base… Be clear with your rules and expectations – be aware that these may need to shift and be flexible Don’t argue – you will lose - just state your position and listen Use grounding as long as it works Remove privileges as long as this works Negotiate – but not beyond your values or safety Expect challenges to your authority Keep everything about health and safety Don’t power struggle – you will lose Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    66. 66.  BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL!!!!! And remember these: Be present – emotionally, physically, psychologically Be safe – calm, capable, stable Be predictable – reliable, constant Be responsive – learn what your teen needs and provide it Be loving – demonstrate the love through touch, voice, care Be protective - keep the environment safe – no violence, no chaos, no angry voices Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
    67. 67. Thank you for sharing this time with me.  You can check out other services and products at these sites:     The Hazardous Parenting facebook site  (search under Brenda McCreight)  (search under Brenda McCreight)  (search under Brenda McCreight)   Brenda provides counselling and parent coaching worldwide via skype, telephone, and email – please contact her by email if you would like to book an appointment.
    68. 68. Some of Brenda‟s books