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The real truth about bonding with your child.



Why is it so important to build a strong bond with your kids?

A child’s bond with his parents has a direct impact on every aspect of his future life, and especially his future relationships and self-confidence. Research has shown that 80% of long-term criminals did not have a secure attachment with their parents. It is also estimated that 40% of all children do not have a strong bond with their parents by the time they reach the age of 5. It’s not to say that all of these children will turn out to have behavioural or relationships issues, but they will be less robust in their emotional capacity when it comes to dealing with the disappointments and challenges of daily life.



What are the biggest challenges regarding the bond between kids and parents?

We live in a time and place where family is not regarded the highest priority. The drive towards career and financial success is often in direct contrast to the needs of the family. For me it’s about energy. Most parents’ intentions towards their family is sincere, but intention does not always become reality. If most of our energy and time is spent on hobbies, work or something else, we don’t have much energy left to spend on our relationships. We therefore need to approach our lives in a way that enables us to spend more energy on our relationships. It’s actually quite simple, a tired busy or occupied mommy cannot be completely present for her kids and this will harm the bond.


How can families overcome these challenges?

 As adults we often exclude our kids from our daily activities. There are many activities that could include our kids and could be made fun with a little bit of extra effort.  Buying groceries, exercising, making meals, doing hobbies… all of these could be potential activities that could be done together with your kids to strengthen the bond.


Technology is often a big distractor from quality time. Parents can therefore make a rule that technology is only used during certain times of the day to encourage family and bonding-time. But this rule should then also count for the parents. Research has shown that the time children spend in front of the TV has a negative impact on their cognitive development. In today’s technology driven environment it is parents’ responsibility to expose their kids to fun non-technological activities. Board games, outside activities, adventure activities (like canoeing or camping), sport, imagination activities (like building a fort) are just a few examples.


How can you enhance bonding when you don’t have lots of time to spend with your child?

I recently completed a course on parenting guidance by the Hand-in-Hand parenting institute in America and learnt about what they call “special time”. Special time can be anything from 5 to 60 minutes every day. It is a time where the parent spends dedicated time with their child doing what the child wants to do. The child is therefore in charge of the activities during special time. Special time should become part of the daily routine, so that your child knows that he can count on a daily dose of dedicated time from you.


Quality time looks different for each child and for different ages. Kids aged 1-3 years will enjoy activities that involve exploration and curiosity, whereas 3-5 year olds will probably enjoy imagination games. 4-8 year olds will enjoy activities that encourage them to learn new skills like swimming, dancing or playing soccer. Tweens on the other hand will enjoy social activities that will allows them to develop social skills (like going to the movies or having a milkshake).

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