If you find that you are worrying that your children aren’t well bonded to you (because, well, they are getting older and don’t respond as positively to being hugged and kissed anymore), remember that the bond that we have with our children is built over time. As we go through new stages with them, we can’t always rely on what we always used to do in order to feel close to them or to help them feel close to us. In general, if we keep on showing interest in them, our bond with them will continue to be strengthened. Here’s a quick checklist of things we can do that support the objective of showing interest in our child:
Listen. Use our ears and not our mouths.
Make comprehension noises/responses. Uh-huh. Mmm. Wow. Really? That’s great!
Give eye contact. This is a hard one. But we must do it.
Stop doing other things. Give our children our full attention.
Ask questions. Gently prompt as many specifics as you can without coming off as pestering.
Linger. Our children might have more to say if we hang around a bit longer (in silence, like we’re waiting for them to keep talking).
Make supportive comments. Without repeating or paraphrasing every single thing our children have said, we can make statements about what they have just said that show that we were listening, that we care, and that we are builder-uppers.
Try to enjoy yourself and your child in the moment. Shedding the skin of the all-about-me life that many of us have grown accustomed to before having kids will sometimes make us feel very uncomfortable and may even feel painful to us. But try to move past this and simply enjoy being in the moment with your child. These moments are fleeting, and the only way to capture the time is to be present in the present.