In Daniel Hughes book, Attachment-Focused Parenting: Effective Strategies to Care for Children he asserts that parents should utilize P.A.C.E (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy) to build a loving and secure attachment bond with a child.
Playfulness: Children learn through play. The laughter and openness so common in play helps child and parent connect to one another.
Acceptance: A child’s behaviors are subject to judgment by a child’s parents, but a child’s core self shouldn’t be. Learning to separate your child’s behaviors from who they are as a person will help your child accept him/herself, even when they have made a mistake. Strive to accept your child unconditionally.
Curiosity: Being curious about your child’s feelings and thoughts is important in fully understanding your child and in creating a bond. Approaching your child with an open mindfulness allows for good communication. Accepting the reason why your child made a decision to do something is important in understanding a child’s motivation. You might not agree with the behavior, but being curious allows you to talk to your child about alternative responses.
Empathy: Truly understanding the difficulties and challenges life is bringing your child is an important part of the attachment process. Again, empathy doesn’t mean you accept your child’s negative behaviors. It just means you can identify with the struggles that led him/her to make the decision in the first place.
Using P.A.C.E with Art
I find that Daniel Hughes points are particularly helpful when applied to specific examples. Here, I give an overview of bringing P.A.C.E. into art projects with your kids, so you can use art to create attachment.
Playfulness and ART: Get messy and connect through the fun of the art-making process. After making the art, you can use it to play with your child. Have your child make their favorite animal and then use it during play. This is a fantastic way to bond with your child.
Acceptance and ART: No matter how unpleasing the final product is, accept that the piece of art is an expression of his/her inner self. Accept and praise the product, as it is a reflection of your child’s identity. This will help her/him form positive self-image.
Curiosity and ART: When your child is making art, ask questions: Why are you using that color? How does it feel on your hands when you touch that? What feeling are you having? This will give you a greater knowledge of your child’s individuality.
Empathy and ART: Emotionally join with your child while making art. Laugh when they laugh, validate them when they cry, and encourage them when they are frustrated. Making art is not easy and can elicit a variety of emotional responses, support your child through them. This will help your child form a secure attachment to you.