How to strengthen your bond with your toddler?

Your loving relationship with your toddler is vital for their development. When your child feels safe, secure and loved, they are more confident to explore their world. This is how your child develops communication, social and physical skills.

Bonding between parent and child is shaped by the things you do together and the way you make your toddler feel. These early moments are critical to your child’s present and long-term wellbeing.

I am the parent; wouldn’t I already have a bond with my toddler?

It is critical your child develops a secure attachment, so they feel loved, protected and safe.

Children will develop an attachment with anyone; however, for their health and wellbeing, it is critical they develop a secure attachment with you, so they feel loved, protected and safe.

A secure attachment can be created through sensitivity, routine and playfulness.

Three steps to building a healthy secure attachment with my toddler

One – learning to be sensitive to my toddlers needs

  • Being sensitive to your toddlers’ needs and ensuring they know “I see you; I hear you; I understand you”. 
  • As a parent, it is vital you understand your child’s feelings, respond to them and validate them
  • You can do this through both verbal and non-verbal behaviours, for example;
    • facial expressions
    • spoken words
    • pitch and tone of voice
    • skin to skin contact, incorporating hand holding, hugs, stroking hair and close proximity
    • mimicking your child’s expressions
    • coo’s
    • serve and return communication (see below example)
  • Serve and return communication is back and forth communication with your child. An example of this is where your child is looking and pointing at something. That is a serve. A return is where you then respond to your child by acknowledging what they are pointing at and saying, for example, “wow – I see that!”.
  • When you develop good communication with your toddler, it builds your relationship because it sends a message that you value your toddlers’ thoughts and feelings.
  • Show your toddler warmth and love by using your own body language to show you are interested in your child and are giving them your full attention.

Two – create a routine

  • Build a daily routine that includes your child’s needs, such as;
    • Required times for food, sleep and clean nappies
    • Allocate time slots for reading books prior to bedtime, cuddling with your toddler and having quiet time with your child each night before bedtime.
  • Keep your routine in the same order and time every day of the week.
  • Sooner or later, it will become automatic and a part of your everyday life
  • Routines help toddlers feel safe, reduce their stress and make them feel like they can depend on you.
  • Routines help you feel more organised and in control, help you build healthy habits and free up time.

Three – play with your toddler

  • Playing with your toddler is important for the development of a healthy, secure attachment.
  • It is known to be one of the most effective tools for building strong relationships as it brings fun, joy and vitality to your relationship with your toddler.
  • Play and laughter perform an essential role in the development of a healthy parent-child relationship with laughter a fantastic remedy to any conflict.
  • Laughter releases the hormone oxytocin which plays a significant role in parent-infant bonding.
  • An idea for playing with your toddler is:
    • Creating an exciting play space on the floor by adding some simple props like old scarves, handbags or clothes. This can give your toddler ideas to make up stories or pretend games.
  • Allocating time for play with you toddler is essential to forming a healthy bond with your toddler and is critical for many important developmental milestones.
  • It is important to allocate time away from smart phones and distractions so you can spend quality time with your toddler.

Is there anything else I should know about bonding and attachment?

The attachment you create with your child will impact your child for the rest of their life, especially in relation to how they will interact with others in their lifetime.

If you have any concerns with your child’s development, you can find out more by accessing the Early Childhood Authority’s website at www.eca.gov.ae or contact the Child Health Line on 024194983. Operated by Mubadala Health (available 10:00 am -18:00 pm).


 

This initiative is a collaboration between the Early Childhood Authority, Mubadala and Mubadala Health

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