The "gurus" of attachment parenting - Neufeld, Kohn, etc. all state more or less that with an intact, attached relationship, the child "wants" to be "right" with the parent. So the idea as I understand it, is that if you use the ideas of attachment theory for babies and toddlers, are responsive to your child, honor their emotions, trust them, avoid puishment & discipline practices that lead to detachment, then by the time they're older, they will simply "want" to be right with you and you'll avoid a lot of discipline struggles off the bat.
Okay, but what if that's not happening? I hadn't really acknowledged how far we've come from the "ideal" w/ discipline until we had another baby. Now we've got a toddler and two 8 year olds. The toddler is easy! I realize how "good" I was as a parent when my twins were babies and toddlers and preschoolers. The struggles were, and are, sometimes intense, but I really do see how the attachment works and how working with that attachment helps resolve the conflict.
It doesn't work with the big kids. I don't see that drive to be "right" with Mom and Dad. And the behaviors we're struggling with are so much more intense, difficult, potentially having long-term consequences. My big frustration right now is that I can't find resources. I've read and re-read books like "Spirited Child", "Hold onto Your Kids", "Unconditional Parenting". The only book I've found that seems to address this at all is "Explosive Child". The therapists and counselors we can find all use behaviorism - "consequences" (which is a nice name for punishment), reward schedules, and the like.
I homeschool my big kids, and am part of a large local homeschooling group made up mostly of parents who share our ideals and beliefs about raising children. For the majority of the kids, the idea that the child wants to be "right" w/ the parent works. These are what a handful of us call the "easy" kids. Sure, there are struggles, but they can be resolved w/in the attachment relationship. The child seems as upset as the parent when they are in conflict. And then there are kids like mine, who are not "easy". Some of these children have been diagnoses w/ conditions like ODD, ADHD, autism spectrum, etc. Others have not, or have not been tested. We are currently looking into having one, if not both, of our children evaluated for these sorts of conditions.
But I still need discipline ideas. I love the ideal of attachment theory, but it's a long-term solution/goal. What do I do in the moment? I cannot remember the last time we got through a day without a meltdown, usually more than one. We make sure they're physically right (fed, enough sleep, not overly scheduled), and I can predict when something is physicallly not right. But sometimes, usually!, there's no such convenient explantion. It seems like there's a huge gap for the big kids between attachment theory and actual, practical, day-to-day options that don't involve punitive discipline/behaviorism.