Family provides us with comfort and support and is the most important influence in a child’s development. They are the child’s first teachers and role models, establishing the foundation for future relationships and learning. As a parent, it is vital that you cultivate strong family bonds and get to know your child better through activities and routines.
What is Family Bonding?
Family bonding refers to quality time spent with one’s family to develop relationships further. This could include participating in activities together – playing a game, having meals, or even a simple walk in the park.
The Importance of Family Bonding
Family relationships are crucial and consequential to an individual’s well-being. Studies have shown that stable parent-child bonding can boost children’s general happiness, mental and physical health, school grades, and life satisfaction. Family connections can also provide a greater sense of purpose and meaning, which are beneficial to one’s overall well-being.
Young children learn and develop through interactions with significant adults and other children in their lives. During the first three years, they learn whether or not they are valued and what kind of difference they make to the world. Identity is closely related to belonging. A secure relationship would allow children to develop a strong sense of self and belonging, providing them with the confidence to explore. As such, it is important that parents seize daily opportunities to bond with their babies and toddlers by touching, talking, singing, or playing with them.
Tips for Bonding with your Baby (Infants)
Bonding with your infant is one of the most exciting things in parenthood. You can begin by establishing skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Gently cradle your baby in your arms and allow them to know your touch. Here are some ways you can interact with your baby:
- Hold your baby, preferably skin-to-skin contact. Try rocking or holding your baby against you.
- Maintain eye contact when interacting with your baby. Provide them with undivided attention; treat your child’s care routines as ‘getting to know you more bonding sessions.
- Use a patient and warm tone when engaging in dialogue with your baby.
- Talk to your baby as often as you can. Providing simple descriptions and explanations during routines help babies to know what to expect and allows them to recognise your voice. You can also read stories and sing songs.
- Respond positively and immediately to any signs of distress. Being responsive signals to babies that they are loved and understood, allowing them to form secure attachments.
- Follow your baby’s interests. Talk to your baby about what they are interested in. For example, “You picked up the teddy bear. Do you want to play with me?”
Tips for Bonding with your Toddler
The next stage of an infant’s life is toddlerhood. During this period of time, they grow by leaps and bounds. They become much more expressive, mobile and independent. They begin to learn how to walk, talk, sing and more! Here are some useful tips you can try with your toddler:
- Read with your toddler. Reading helps to develop your child’s vocabulary and teaches them more about the world around them.
- Use simple words and signs to help them express their needs. At this age, they will likely lack the social skills and language to express themselves. Parents may help toddlers learn to cope and regulate their feelings by identifying said feelings.
- Play with your toddler. Children have an innate need to play and explore the world. Play allows children to develop their imagination, creativity, cognition and motor skills.
- Allow your toddler to make decisions. Toddlers tend to want more control of their environment as they are beginning to develop their sense of autonomy. Thus, it is vital that parents allow them to try things on their own. This can include letting your toddler select which toy to play with or what kinds of food to eat.
Bonding is a process that takes time and effort, it can take weeks or months to get to know your baby. Caring for a child can be physically tiring, but the gratification that comes with watching them learn and grow into confident and healthy individuals is something that is irreplaceable. Take the time to try different things and bond with your loved ones.
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