With the uptake of strengths-based approaches to child welfare practice in Australia and related child protection jurisdictions in Europe and North America, it is timely to consider what is ‘good’ parenting and caregiving.
In this article I briefly introduce a model for considering what is ‘good’ parenting and caregiving in terms of the benefits it affords the developing child. That is, a model for identifying assets that are central to strengths-based practice.
The model is the CARE Model, which appears in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder – Second Edition (Pearce, 2016). The CARE Model reflects what science informs us are important aspects of caregiving and the caregiving environment that promote an optimal ‘internal’ (psychological) environment for children and young people; one that supports secure exploration, mastery, and optimal developmental outcomes. This optimal internal environment is one where children develop a secure attachment style, maintain optimal arousal levels for performance and wellbeing, and learn how to influence their world in functional ways to support accessibility to needs provision. I refer to this as the Triple-A Model (Attachment, Arousal, Accessibility to needs provision; Pearce, 2009; 2010; 2011; 2016).
The CARE Model refers to:
I will briefly explain why each component of the model is important. For a fuller account of the the CARE Model I refer you to A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder – Second Edition (Pearce, 2016) and the CARE Curriculum (previously known as the CARE Therapeutic Framework).
Children benefit from having a small number of primary caregivers who are aligned in their approach to caregiving and present to the child in a consistent manner. Children also benefit from a caregiving environment that is ordered, and where they can predict what is gong to happen, when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen, and why it is going to happen.
Consistency is optimal for learning, including learning about the accessibility and responsiveness of adults in a caregiving role. Consistency is reassuring, and so supports more optimal arousal levels. Consistent parental accessibility and responsiveness promotes a secure attachment style, which supports a positive approach to life and relationships.
Tip: Identify the routines and rituals in the home that support a child’s experience of order and predictability.
Children benefit from experiencing their primary caregivers as being accessible to them. Caregiver accessibility promotes tolerance of separations and secure exploration which, in turn, support all aspects of a child’s journey towards achieving their developmental potential, and independence.
Tip: Identify times that the caregivers in the home attend to the child proactively.
Children benefit from the experience that their needs are understood and important and will be addressed reliably and predictably by their primary caregivers. Caregiver responsiveness promotes optimal beliefs about self, other and world (attachment working models/ representations), which support a confident approach to life and relationships, wellbeing, and trust in accessibility to needs provision.
Tip: Identify ways in which the caregivers in the home acknowledge the child’s experience and address their needs (proactively). See also my article about adults using their words.
Children benefit from the experience of their primary caregivers regulating them through loving touch and moments of shared emotional experience followed by regulation to calm (co-regulation). As a result of their primary caregivers regulating them and regulating with them, children ultimately learn to regulate themselves. Through shared emotional experience children develop an understanding and appreciation of the experience of others, which form the basis for empathy and self-regulation in consideration of the experience of others (reciprocity). Further, through shared emotional experience and (co)regulation by their primary caregivers, children are afforded a safe emotional space to explore and accept a range of emotional experience
Tip: Identify activities over which the caregivers and children have a shared emotional experience (Further tip: emotional connectedness is often a by-product of play).
For more information I refer you to A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder – Second Edition (Pearce, 2016) and the CARE Curriculum.
Please also see my program of upcoming training. To book training for your staff group, do get in touch.
A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp
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Pearce, C.M. (2016) A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Pearce, C.M. (2011). A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Pearce, C.M. (2010). An Integration of Theory, Science and Reflective Clinical Practice in the Care and Management of Attachment-Disordered Children – A Triple A Approach. Educational and Child Psychology (Special Issue on Attachment), 27 (3): 73-86
Pearce, C.M. (2009) A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers