How exactly do we bond with our children and what effect does this have on the child?
The bond between parents and their children is undeniable. And for some parents, it can be a struggle due to birth complications, health problems and the blending of families.
The relationship between parents and their children greatly impacts a child’s future mental, physical, social and emotional health. You don’t necessarily have to be the perfect parent to form a lasting and loving bond with your child, but it does go beyond just fulfilling basic needs. A strong emotional attachment will help give your child a sense of security and self-worth.
While it’s typically easier to form a bond when your child is an infant, a strong emotional bond can be formed at any life stage. When the child is an infant, nonverbal communication like tone of voice, touch or facial expression is important for creating that ideal emotional bond with your new baby. Non-verbal communication:
- Eye contact. Positive emotion can be created through maintaining eye contact. If you’re feeling stressed, you may not look into your child’s eyes at all.
- Facial expression. A calm and attentive expression helps a child feel secure.
- Tone of voice. Even if your child is much too young to understand the words you’re saying, they can understand the tone of voice used.
- Touch also conveys your emotional state. The way in which you wash, lift and carry your baby conveys a lot of emotion.
- Body Language is also important. Relaxed open posture is ideal for making a child feel safe and secure.
Even if you have an older child, a secure bond is essential for your child’s well-being. Children don’t necessarily need big gestures to feel connected:
- Everyday tasks like helping your child with their homework, chatting while making dinner and even having the child help with making meals and snacks can provide opportunities to create an emotional connection. Focus on limiting your time spent watching TV and playing on your phone so that your child gets your undivided attention.
- Reading a story, playing games, singing, watching TV together can all be great ways for parents to bond with their children.
- Children feel more connected and listened to when they choose what activity they’d like to do with you.
The first few days and weeks after birth are crucial times for bonding, but many things can affect how a parent feels about their child. Sometimes, mothers have a difficult birth and need more recovery time. When a newborn is sent to intensive care it might be harder for a mother and father to establish that strong bond right away. Parents with children that have special needs may also have a difficult time bonding. Also, when families merge, forming a strong emotional bond can take a long time.
A secure attachment can be formed with your child at any age. It’s important to focus on maintaining or creating a strong bond with your child so that they have the best possible start...for life!