Hold On To Your Kids Outline

This outline is based on chapters 2, 14, 15 and 16 of Dr. Gordon Neufeld's Book, Hold On To Your Kids. It begins from the "preventive" position, rather than the "remedial" position. If you have not already read the book, I highly recommend you do. It is packed with information all of which simply cannot be covered in an outline. The purpose of the outline is to pique your interest in reading the book, and to use as a "cheat sheet" if you've already read and are having difficulty recalling information. While the outline cuts to the chase, so to speak, jumping right into how to preserve and fortify the attachment between parent and child, the other information in the book, on "counterwill" or simply the nature of attachment, for example, is invaluable, and very interesting reading, I might add. Not only will this book help you with your relationships with your children, but with your spouse and other family members, as well. You might say Dr. Neufeld is a sort of a Dale Carnegie for families.

I. Preserve the Ties That Empower

A. Make the relationship the priority

1. The child is more important than what he does—unconditional love and acceptance is what he needs to feel good in order to be good

2. Attachment gives parents power

B. Parent with attachment in mind

1. Attachment comes first and is absolutely necessary for

2. Maturity—which a child is able to do ONLY when he has a rest from seeking the attachment

3. Socialization—can only happen safely after the appropriate level of maturity has been reached

C. Help your child keep you close, especially through his main mode of attaching

1. Through his senses—physical proximity: sight, sound, smell, and touch

2. Through sameness—identify with the child and take an interest in the his interests

3. Through belonging and loyalty—lay claim to the child and keep his confidences

4. Through significance—treat each child as though he is the most important thing in your life

5. Through feeling—sharing warm, loving, affectionate feelings

6. Through being known—sharing and accepting intimate thoughts, feelings, desires: secrets

D. Stay connected when physically apart

1. Pictures

2. Jewelry (locket with picture)

3. Notes

4. Phone calls

5. Make a gift of something that is yours

6. Make a gift of your scent on some object

7. Make the child familiar with our whereabouts by giving them a “tour” of where you’ll be—visit the office, see the brochure of the resort, see the website, etc.

E. Cultivate an intimacy with the child that no one else can compete with

1. Draw the child out

a. Regular outings

b. Shared tasks

c. Reading together, or if not together, read the books they have read and enjoyed

d. Retreating to your own space, but welcoming “visits” from whichever child happens to knock at the door

F. Creating structures and imposing restrictions that safeguard the attachment

1. Structures like the family meal, game night, family outings, family Rosary will strengthen the attachment and mend any weaknesses in it (think of the attachment like a fence that keeps the kids in and intruders out—fences need to be mended and fortified)

2. Restrictions on socializing, e-mail, phone, TV and music (because if the bad example of peer orientation therein) minimize the competition for the child’s orientation

II. Discipline That Does Not Divide

A. Good discipline means training, bringing under control, imposing order on the child’s attachments without damaging our relationship with him, triggering crippling emotional defenses or fostering peer orientation, skillfully supporting nature’s built in process of adapt and mature. The less children are in need of discipline, the more effective any method will be. The obverse is also true: the more a child is in need of discipline, the less effective the commonly taught discipline techniques will be.

B. Use the seven principles of natural discipline

1. Use connection, not separation, to bring a child into line

a. A child is most likely to misbehave when his attachment has been weakened

b. Separation further weakens the attachment, increasing anxiety and frustration, which leads to aggression, which leads to more displeasing behavior

c. Connection strengthens the attachment and elicits behavior that pleases the parent—the one he is attached to

2. When a problem arises, work the relationship, not the incident

a. Lessons are not learned when emotions are running high—remove the child from the situation gently and revisit the incident and the behavior later, when strong feelings have died down

b. Fortify the attachment not just before the storm, but during the storm, as well (lest rising waters wash away the levy), by acknowledging the frustration, empathizing with the child

3. When things aren’t working for the child, draw out the tears instead of trying to teach a lesson

a. Lessons are learned from adaptation (when futility sinks in), rather than from right thinking, accomplishing the task of discipline by bringing an end to a course of action that doesn’t work, enabling the child to accept limitations and restrictions, facilitating the letting-go of futile demands

i. Represent to the child a wall of futility by simply and firmly pointing out non-negotiable realities (“there isn’t enough,” “that’s all for today,” “he didn’t invite you”)

ii. Commiserate with the child by lovingly articulating his feelings, drawing out the tears which signify letting go and adaptation

4. Solicit good intentions instead of demanding good behavior

a. Prime the child’s desire to want to be good by collecting him, firing up the attachment mechanisms

b. Coax the child in the desired direction—“Do you think you could put the ladder away when you’re done using it?”

i. Ordering the child around arouses his counterwill (built into all of us as a safety against unlawful manipulators)

ii. Overactive counterwill can drive children right into the den of their peers, rather than into our loving arms

5. Draw out the mixed feelings instead of trying to stop impulsive behavior—which arises out of emotion/instinct: shame, fear, insecurity, jealousy, frustration, guilt, dread, anger, etc., and lives in all of us (maturity must be acquired before these impulses can be controlled, and that comes through adaptation)

a. Temper negative feelings with positive ones, aggression with affection, counterwill with attachment, invite conflicting elements to exist and communicate acceptance of what is within the child—drawing the child to us instead of pushing him away

b. Discuss the incident after feelings have subsided, the storm has passed and the sun is shining again

6. When dealing with an impulsive child, try scripting the desired behavior instead of demanding maturity

a. Collect the child

b. Provide cues for what to do and how to do it in ways he can follow (getting the child to act mature will not make him more mature, but it will keep him out of trouble until the underlying impediments to maturation can be addressed and their maturity catches up

7. When unable to change the child, try changing the child’s world (although overuse of this technique undermines the adaptation process)

a. The parent must be able to feel the futility of other disciplinary modes and to let go of what doesn’t work

b. Have insight about what factors in the child’s environment trigger the undesired behavior

c. Have some ability to change or control these adverse factors

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Catholic Attachment Parenting

A philosophy of parenting modeled after the self-donative love exemplified in the relationship between Mary and Jesus.

1 Jn 4:18

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love."

Luke 1:17

"...to turn the hearts of the parents toward their children..."