It seems that the older children get the further away from you they become both emotionally and physically. This is the experience of many parents and developing and maintaining a deep and healthy connection as they grow is a balancing act that requires constant nurturing.

Psychologists refer to this bonding process as ‘attunement’. It is the way parents respond to their child’s emotional needs that add to a child’s sense of being understood and valued. Many factors depend on the success of attunement, including the personalities of both child and parent and outside factors such as job, money and life pressures as well as marital conflicts that impact on family life.

Research has shown that a child’s feeling of ‘safety’ at home is fundamental to emotional health and integral to the bonding process.

5 ways of building secure relationships with children:
Acceptance: every child is different and their temperament reflects this. So it is important to adjust to a child’s personality. A child who feels accepted for who they are feels secure and at ease with themselves.

Time: this is the greatest investment a parent can make in developing a lasting bond with their child. If a child feels you always have time for them then as teenagers they will feel they can come to you with a worrying problem at any time and you will make the time to listen and help them work through it. Time spent does not have to be entertainment filled. It is the small ordinary day to day time spent with a child that makes all the difference.

Life lessons: teaching children life lessons is vital if they are to be equipped for life later on. It is important to acknowledge both your child’s negative and positive emotions. Teaching them to manage difficult emotions such as anger and disappointment as well as celebrating successes will help them manage themselves in life. The best way to do this is by having them see us live out the principles and guidelines we are sharing with them. Remember, they are constantly watching and learning.

Resilient families: keeping the lines of communication open and setting clear boundaries helps make a stable secure home. How we handle the stresses of life also helps teach resilience. It is important to see things through and keep going in the tough times. It is OK for children to see that everyone faces things they find difficult in their life. The trick is to resolve them rather than ignore them.

Patience: this is a great quality for kids to learn as early as possible. A parent’s patience towards a child allows them to work through issues at their own pace and still feel loved and valued no matter how frustrating situations can be.

Family rituals: these are important in bringing the family together and giving them a sense of being part of something, a sense of belonging. They can be as small as having regular evening meals together or a family outing on a Sunday afternoon. Make it a time of fun and relaxation where you can catch up with what is going on in each other’s lives.

Clinical psychologist and Generation Next speaker, Andrew Fuller says a sense of belonging “is the most powerful protective factor. It is the most powerful remedy for loneliness, hopelessness and loss of meaning in all our lives. In research on Australian young people three forms of belonging dominate: belonging to and feeling loved by your family; belonging to a diversity of friendship groups; and belonging to and fitting in at school.”

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Pyschology Today.