Age of Un-Innocence

Confronting difficult topics with kids

How to Strengthen Your Bonds With Your Kids

Four messages your kids need to receive from you.

 

Participation in the development of our children is the greatest gift we can give (and enjoy) in life.  Successful bonding embodies meaningful contact, attachment, and nurturing for development of a healthy child.  Research confirms that deprivation of successful bonding creates emotional and interpersonal impairment. Few priorities are greater than awakening and deepening within our children confidence and healthy character through experiences that they assimilate from our loving relationships with them. These bonding experiences form the solid foundation for their positive connections with others.

The four most important messages that we need to communicate directly with our children are:

 1. I see you, you are important and invaluable, and you know it.

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 2. I love you, and I act in ways that show it.

 3. I recognize who you are and give you the attention you deserve, and we celebrate it.

 4. I nurture your innate capacity for spontaneity, reasoning, creativity, free will, discernment, spirituality, and love, and your identity reveals it.

There are myriads of ways that we care for our kids, yet our own personal connections through conveying and confirming these four messages shape our bond and our children’s character.  While the demands of daily life may interfere and unfortunately take priority over communicating these essentials, these four messages must be maintained, less years pass, and the significance of these messages fail to take hold.

Complete this personal inventory to examine the quality of your bonds with your child:

1.  List three methods you have established to maintain a special connection with your child:

a. _____________________________

b. _____________________________

c. _____________________________

2.  Special (affectionate) words or shared phrases: __________________________________________

3.  Special activities with just the two of you: _________________________________

4.  Special events you enjoy together: _________________________________

5.   How can you build these connections to develop what you’ve established?  List connecting events (special times for heart-to-heart sharing, activities that support your relationship) that you will plan:

a. _____________________________

b. _____________________________

c. _____________________________

6.  How do you think your child characterizes your relationship with him or her?

a. _____________________________

b. _____________________________

c. _____________________________

7.  How do you know that you are making progress in your relationship? (How can you tell?  What are the signs? What are your measures?)

a. _____________________________

b. _____________________________

c. _____________________________ 

Like anything of value, bonding with your kids requires time and commitment. Reflect on your bonds after completing this inventory—and be sure to crosscheck with your kids--to confirm your answers.  Be sure that your bonding time is not only your intention but speaks to experiences that you both enjoy.

 

John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D., is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of How to Talk With Your Kids About Sex that explains what kids need from parents at each stage of their sexual development and how parents can effectively communicate.  His new book, Four Messages to Shape a Child, is soon to be released.   For more information please visit dr.chirban.com and sexual problems.com.

John Chirban, Ph.D, Th.D., is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School.

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