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Parent-child emotional bond more important than biological kinship
The emotional bond between a parent and child is the glue that joins the components of a child's development: health, education, growth and general well-being. Problems in a child’s attachment to a parent or other primary caretaker may adversely affect the child's development.
Psychologist John Bowlby, the first to describe and study the importance of emotional bonding, stated that emotional attachment is a specific aspect of the child-caregiver relationship and relates to a child's need for feeling protected and safe.
An emotional bond is not just about playing and entertaining the child, feeding and setting limits or teaching a child new skills. Bonding takes place when the child sees the parent or other primary caregiver as a source of comfort and a safe haven from which to explore the world. Secure emotional bonding between a parent and a child can protect the child from too much stress.
We call a child's behavioural responses to the parents ‘attachment’. The sensitivity of a parent to the mood and emotions of the child can be called ‘disposition’. Parents well dispositioned to their child will respond to the child's emotions immediately through facial expressions (smile and eye contact), a caring tone of voice, gestures and actions. Through this communication, a parent with the proper disposition expresses understanding of the child's feelings, wants and needs. Properly dispositioned parents help their child to recognize his or her own emotions and feelings and learn to regulate them.
Each infant’s unique personality emerges from the beginning of life and actively shapes the interactions with caregivers. Every child has her own needs and desires, likes and dislikes, joys and fears. From birth, babies signal their needs and preferences, mainly through increasingly complex non-verbal communication.
The behaviour of parents may support or damage emotional attachment. Ways for parents to establish mutual love and reliable attachment with their children include: talk to them in a warm voice, smile, praise, remain physically close, use positive expressions, spend time and show emotional warmth. Children whose parents tend to criticize, reject or attempt to control their every move tend to avoid emotional intimacy. Children whose mothers and fathers are abusive tend to avoid emotional closeness and retreat into themselves.
Every child is special; there is no single approach that fits all children. Insisting on activities that are not interesting to a child can lead to stress and frustration.
There are many ways to establish contact with your child. Sometimes it takes time for the relationship between parent and child to blossom.
Psychologists who study attachment agreed on one thing: parents’ sincere engagement and love is the most important thing. Even if a parent cannot devote as much time as she/he desires, empathy and care can have a powerful effect on their children’s development.