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For the past twenty years, psychological research has produced findings which call for a radical reconceptualization of what drives children’s behaviour. More and more, entire fields of professionals working with children are, rightly, moving away from theories of behaviourism which assert that children are far more manipulation-oriented than the developmental wiring of their brains would allow, and towards the neuroscience of relationships as both the cause, and the remedy, of behavioural challenge.

If you’re like me, a pretty ‘normal’ parent who could easily declare themself the queen (or king) of imperfect parenting moments, there’s probably a time or two etched into your memory of things you desperately wished you had done differently. Things you feel changed the way your child sees you, and things which changed the way the relationship felt afterwards – and not for the better. If, like me, you wish desperately for a do-over of those moments and their impact on your relationship with your child, I want to encourage you today.

Brain wiring never stops – even in old age. So there’s always the opportunity to re-wire a different ending to those moments that feel hard-wired and unchangeable. You can reclaim missed moments. You can recapture parts of the relationship that you fear are lost. You can increase relationship security between you and your little one, and there’s never a better time than immediately.

For those of us still in the very early years, take heart at these findings from recently published research; “In supporting an ecology of attachment organisation at each developmental epoch in early childhood, maintenance of early security may be enhanced and the movement from insecurity toward security supported. The results presented indicate the potential for positive outcomes through investment of resources in attachment-specific public health promotional activities and in earliest intervention for disorganised parent-child relationships.” (Opie, McIntosh, Esler, Duschinsky, George, Schore, Kothe, Tan, Greenwood & Olsson, 2021).

For those of us outside of the early years, the same is true, though our parenting interventions may need to become a little more intentional, and it may take a little longer. But again, the sooner we start… right? If this is an area you desperately wish was different, please reach out. There is strong evidence that we can re-write the stories of our parenting mis-steps, and this is golden news for most of us.

Written by Marni Freeman

Article reference: Jessica E. Opie, Jennifer E. McIntosh, Timothy B. Esler, Robbie Duschinsky, Carol George, Allan Schore, Emily J. Kothe, Evelyn S. Tan, Christopher J. Greenwood & Craig A. Olsson (2021) Early childhood attachment stability and change: a meta-analysis, Attachment & Human Development, 23:6, 897-930, DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2020.1800769 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2020.1800769

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