Attachment and Bonding

I was very moved by the following message...Kathi Stringer

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Our Arms Give God's Hugs

Think back to when you held a baby in your arms. Remember how good that felt to you and to your baby. I had a baby who would stop breathing when I laid him down. I carried him in a backpack next to my breast. He felt so good there snuggled next to me. I knew he was safe. He knew he was safe.

Cuddling a baby in your arms gives that new life a sense of safety and security. When the baby cries, you hold him close, rock him, sooth his fears, calm him. You meet his need for human contact which assures him that even though he is helpless there is someone who will take care of him.

The Child Learns To Trust

A child who has been neglected, abused, or has lost important people in his life has learned to distrust adults. He needs to return to the beginning. He needs to learn to trust you.

The rocking and cuddling, looking into each others eyes, feeling each others touch, promotes attachment and bonding.

The child learns that there is an adult who loves and cares enough about him to spend time together in your arms. There is an adult who can recognize, identify and is strong enough to handle all of his feelings and still love him-- EVEN WHEN HE IS MOST UNLOVABLE. THE CHILD LEARNS TO TRUST

When Should I Use Cuddle Time?

DAILY to promote attachment and bonding. When he first wakes up.

This is a great way to start your morning. Just snuggle into the bed with him. Or wrap him in a blanket and rock him in a chair. A few minutes early in the day, can save endless hours of frustration later.

"Troubled children are unable to delay the fulfillment of basic needs...To a troubled child, nothing is more important than being reassured as early in the day as possible that he has food, friends, attention, and encouragement....Troubled children focus on nothing else until these needs are met.

Meet the needs early or consume your time fighting them. The choice is yours, not theirs." p.105,106 "What do you do with a child like this? by L.Tobin

When it is bedtime

Don't send a child to bed when either of you are angry. Deal with the anger in cuddle time. Ending the day safe in your arms will do more for the child's ability to learn to trust than almost anything else you can do. It tells him that no matter how awful he was that day, you do not reject him.

Don't bring up all or any of his past sins. Just tell him you love him.

This can be a two or three minute cuddle if you can't deal with the child any longer than that.

It is a great time for a story--my grandpa always told me stories about me going on great and heroic adventures. I don't remember any of them now, but I do remember being held in grandpa's arms.

When the child is

A child who is out of control--throwing a tantrum, refusing to comply with rules, etc.--needs to learn to trust again. He needs to find someone who is strong enough to handle all of his feelings--even the very angry, out of control feelings.

He may have learned from other adults that anger is the way to get what you want-to make people do what you want. He may be afraid to allow anyone else control over him. He may want to prove to himself and the world that he is big enough, mean enough, loud enough, and angry enough to take care of himself.

If I ignored his anger, he may hurt himself and others. He will definitely frustrate and stress me out. And he did not learn that I cared about him or his behavior. I don't like to ignore a child's feelings. I definitely ignore insignificant behaviors while I am working towards building a sense of trust. But feelings of anger, fear, loneliness, I let the child know that I recognize that he has feelings, I accept his feelings, and I can handle his feelings.

Any Other Time That I Feel Like Cuddling My Child

Children may manipulate your time and energy. Remember to Cuddle on your terms-your idea-your time. If the child is demanding cuddletime, and you give it to him, you have taught him that angry, bossy, annoying behavior gets me what I want. He does not believe that mom is cuddling him because she wants to love him.

Memorize the phrases "I know what you need", "I know how to give you love", "I know when you need cuddle time".

He may not be acting like it, but he really wants to know that there is someone smarter and stronger than him who can be in control of him.

How To Cuddle

We Are Going To Practice Loving Each Other Every Day

Love enters the soul through the eyes and through touch.

I use this procedure whenever I see the child's frustration level is getting in the way of behaving appropriately. I do not use the bottle all of the time. I tell the child that I know what he needs and when he needs it. I will take good care of him.

The child may resist at first. Start with short periods of time more often--a couple of minutes several times a day. Include a story time. Telling a story is better than reading one because you can make eye contact. Telling a story about the child, even if he hears it several times a day, usually calms the child.

The child will probably keep asking to go play. Tell him that you know when he has got enough of your love inside of him for him to go play. You will decide when he is done.

Ideas presented were taken from a lecture given by Larry Van Bloem, M.S.W.,C.S.W Feb. 2, 1993 at a DFS Specialized Foster Parent Training Seminar