For years, we have known that the strongest bond that has ever existed is that of a mother with her child. One of the main predictors of how well your child will do in school and in life is the strength of the relationship he or she has with YOU as the mother. This relationship impacts your child’s mental, physical, social, and emotional health. It does not depend on the quality of care or parental love, but on the nonverbal, emotional communication between the child and the mother rightly known as the secure attachment bond. While it’s easiest to form this bond with an infant, it can be formed at any time or at any age.
In the initial years as a mother or a caretaker, you make sure that every aspect of the child’s growth is taken care of- you will provide him with the best quality nourishment, a beautiful home to live in, highest education and all the materialistic things your child needs. Inspite of all this after years you may realise that you still weren’t able to develop a secure attachment with your child.
And this happens not because you forget about it but because in this fast and competitive world you are always trying to make sure that your child goes for the best of classes and gets the best exposure, thus leaving you with little time to understand your child’s feelings as well as convey them back to your child.
Why is a secure attachment bond so important?
- Helps in developing fulfilling intimate relationships
- Helps in maintaining emotional balance
- They feel confident and good about themselves
- They enjoy being with other people
- They rebound from disappointment and loss
- They better share their feelings and seek support when needed
As a Counsellor and a Psychotherapist working with children for the last few years, I have realised that to build a secure attachment with your munchkin, you need to keep some very important points in mind.
1. Invest time in your child – When I mean time, it is quality time where you are doing nothing but just talking to your child of how his/her day was, what was the most liked and disliked part of the day and how he/she felt at that time. Make your child talk about his feelings more than factual information.
2. Mirror – Mirror the child’s expressions while conveying that you understand what he/she is feeling and that you are always there for your child. Make sure to then hold their hand and give them a hug. Physical touch makes a child feel loved and secure.
3. Be in the moment– focus solely on the moment-to-moment experience, just enjoying connecting with your child. You listen, talk, or play with your child, giving your full, focused attention in ways that feel comfortable to him/her, without any distractions.
4. Associate actions with thoughts – for instance, when you see your child doing something, since it’s the action that you first perceive, try and associate it to your child’s thoughts, it will help you better understand what your child is thinking and feeling.
5. Use Appropriate Nonverbal Communication – nonverbal communication is the key to developing a secure attachment bond. It involves 5 main cues :
- Eye Contact – An affectionate look at your child, can give a positive message which would make him/her feel relaxed, secure and happy.
- Tone of Voice – Even if your child is too young to understand the words that you use, he or she can understand the difference between a tone that is harsh, indifferent, or preoccupied and a tone that conveys tenderness, interest, concern, and understanding. When talking to older children, make sure that the tone you use matches what you’re saying.
- Facial Expressions – Your face can express countless emotions without saying a word. Thus keep your expression calm and attentive when you communicate with your child. This will help your child feel secure.
- Touch – The way you touch your child conveys your emotional state – whether you are calm, relaxed or upset and disinterested. The way you wash, lift your baby or the way you hug your baby can convey a lot of emotions to your child. A gentle touch on the arm and a slight pat on the back will make your child feel connected and loved by you.
- Body- Language– Always have a relaxed, open posture, leaning towards your child and your child will feel what he or she is saying matters to you. The way you sit, move, and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to your child.
Your child will not remember you for the materialistic things that you shower them with, but will always remember how you made him/her feel. Keep that connect going.
Namrata Shah is a Counsellor, Psychotherapist and a Certified Hypnotherapist. She completed her masters in Counselling Psychology from Mumbai University. She is a trained Sex and Sexuality Counsellor and an Art based Therapy Practitioner. She is currently working with Vissanji Academy, a School in Andheri East, as a School Counsellor. She also conducts Parenting sessions and Personal Counselling sessions.
She has her own venture Small Steps… Big Leaps. It is a program that focuses on building cognitive, motor, learning, reading, social, emotional and behavioural skills. Her aim is to provide Holistic Development to the child under one roof without having parents to hop to different activity centres. Knowing that every child is unique using various expressive mediums and self-designed games they want to bring out a child’s highest potential through individual as well as group sessions.
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