When a family is given the gift of a child, whether it be natural or through an adoption process, it is assumed that a parent will bond with their child. Yes, the bare necessities are important, food, warmth, clothing etc. But beyond this is meaningful bonding that begins as soon as the first eye contact is made and continues through death. This is a heavy subject and it is one to make you conscious of how to specifically bond with your child, so they can grow up to be emotionally secure adults.
Do you hug your child? Cuddle? At any age, human touch is important. It provides a sense of safety that is not replaceable in any other way. Many people I know do not know how to be vulnerable in situations with a mate. This is a direct affect of what love looked like in their home growing up. Do you express how you feel verbally to your child or around them? It is ultra important to be emotionally intelligent and aware (physically and verbally)with your children especially children with special needs, who may not have natural emotional reactions.
So often I work with families who work to protect their children by hiding feelings, or making it seem that everything is okay, when it is not. As simple as a parent who leaves the house by sneaking out, not saying goodbye, to avoid a child’s tantrum. Instead a child can see it as that person just disappears.
Sidebar: This can be something to practice. Leave the house, use a certain sentence, “I love you, see you later” and come back in 5 minutes, add more time. Eventually your child will understand you always come back…
Why are people so afraid of emotional reactions? I wonder this in my own personal life. Without consciously taking it on, parents/society act in ways that create this “hide your feelings” attitude. It does not help anyone to hide anything. Without sharing verbally what is going on, the feelings grow and take over. The feelings that are being kept inside stop us from doing certain things because of being scared, confused and emotionally “malnourished.” Without a voice to say how they are feeling prior to bad things happening, we are putting our children in harms way, and setting them up for failure in the future.
By sharing natural occurring feelings about a problem with a child, regardless of what the problem is, fixing the problem and dealing with the emotions is what is important. It shows them what tools to use when they have situations in their lives. Remember; a child’s “small” problem of not getting a toy he wants, maybe be seen as something to “just get over,” but in their world, it can be as big as an adult losing their job.
Of course the language used with a child about a problem should be age-appropriate, and they should always be reminded they are safe. If a child is aware of a situation that is going on in their home, it gives them a message of trust, and being part of their community.
Neuro-typical and children with special needs are especially in tune with energy in a room. When I was young, my family spoke in Yiddish to cover up whatever they were talking about, that was not “appropriate” for me to hear. You know what happened? I learned Yiddish…
If emotional language is unfamiliar to you, or you think you are engaging in emotional language with your child, see if you can include these simple phrases in communicating with your child…
- How are you feeling right now?
- Spontaneously “I am feeling…”
- You are a beautiful person inside.
- You are safe and I love you.
- I’m sorry that happened today.
- Thank you for trusting me to listen to you.
- ***Just listen
Accepting the fact that your child may have a problem and is feeling a certain way, does not mean you must fix it. It means you should acknowledge it, support them, and listen. If your child already shares what happens to them at school, this is amazing. If secondly you do not tell them what you would have done, or you actually take action for them, you are amazing, and keep up the good work!
Be aware of family members that try to buy your children love and attention. A hug or a shoulder to lean on, is worth a million dollars for the long run versus a new train or toy every time they come for a visit. Let us have Thanksgiving every day.
I feel that sharing this has made me grow emotionally, and I thank you for reading;)