New Parents: Bonding with Your Child

By Michael Ashworth, Ph.D.

Parent-child bonding is a special intimacy that develops between you and your child is tremendously important to your child’s development. For most children this relationship is their first and will affect all their future ones.

If the bond between you and your child is loving and secure, then your baby, as an adult, is more likely to seek out these healthy elements of a relationship. However, children who grow up without such a connection may become adults without the capacity for love and intimacy.

Forming a Bond

Ideally, this bond with your child begins before birth, or even before conception, as you become emotionally involved with the idea of having a child. After birth, “the sooner, the better” is the rule for becoming close.

A bond still can form later, however There are many times during infancy when parents and children are particularly receptive to developing relationships. This means that adoptive parents are able to form strong bonds even though they cannot be present at birth. Although it may be easier to establish a connection with younger children, there is no age cut-off.

Interacting with and enjoying your infant is critical to forming a bond. Cuddle your baby and make interesting noises to get his or her attention; play games in which you try to get your baby to focus on you. If your child delights you and overwhelms you with feelings of love, this is a healthy sign indicating that you and your child are
bonding.

When Bonding is Difficult

For some parents and children, bonding is difficult. A disability may mean special challenges for parenting, but these can be overcome. If for example, your child has a communication or motor delay, he or she may have trouble expressing love for you. Instead of expecting full smiles and warm noises, you can lean to recognize smaller signals. A fleeting glance or even the movement of a finger can be as representative of love as are bigger gestures from other children.

 

APA Reference
Ashworth, M. (2007). New Parents: Bonding with Your Child. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/new-parents-bonding-with-your-child/0001073
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.