Of course, it’s obvious in hindsight, but who would have thought the answer would be as simple as focussing on love!
There are a few reasons we went down the love-bomb path.
Firstly, and mainly, I was constantly walking on eggshells. I just couldn’t get close to my eldest daughter (almost 6), she was constantly angry with me, frustrated, uptight and wanting to be 100% independent and not accept any help from me, while at the same time lacking in confidence to try things for herself. I had depression when she was a baby, and probably could have helped the attachment process with her in those early years. I’ve got 2 younger kids too, so she does miss out on a bit of attention a lot of the time. So, I started looking into repairing attachment and ways to become closer to her. Ways to allow her to trust me and accept my help, and c-a-l-m d-o-w-n.
We’ve incorporated a few new things and cumulatively I think it’s all working. There’s definitely a change in her, a change in me, and therefore a change in our relationship. I really think the most beneficial thing we’ve done for “us” is our version of “lovebombing”.
I first read about the concept here. It made sense. I didn’t feel it would spoil her, but just get her used to that pleasurable feeling of spending “special” time with Mum, having all my attention, feeling important, and having a say in what we do.
Oliver James’ book, “Love Bombing: Reset your child’s emotional thermostat” outlines a unique way to transform your relationship with your child.
I haven’t got the book, and have only read snippets here and there and experience from others online who have had tried a similar approach. I do intend to read it soon though, as the few strategies we’ve implemented are definitely having a positive impact.
The method entails taking the child away from the rest of the family for a concentrated period of love and control. If done for one or two nights, it can be carried out at home, sending the rest of the family to stay with relatives, or by going somewhere else, usually to a hotel or B & B. Equally, it can be done in shorter bursts, like for a single day or just for as little as half an hour spread over the week. It does not require any financial expense.
Isn’t it funny how there needed to be a book about it before I thought to just show her extreme amounts of love and affection to solve our problems?! We haven’t done it exactly how James suggests. For a start, it’s hard for me to leave the house overnight with a 1 year old needing me, so we’ve adapted and formed our own routine of modified love bombing. Our version involves the child in question having a say in what activities we do. It includes a LOT of hand holding and squeezing, and me telling them I love them a lot. But this is actually pretty natural, because when they feel they’re the most important person in the world to you, and that they have ALL your attention (what they’re always after, every second, every day), they are just so happy, so loving, so… natural. So it’s hard not to keep saying over and over, “I love you, I love spending time with you”. We always manage to fit in so many cuddles, which is unreal, because my eldest is not a cuddly kid.
So, for our version, which in our house, we call “Special Time”, we do the following:
- talk about it a few times before the actual day, so we can both get excited
- discuss ideas for what we might do together
- head out, happy, smiling, no grudges, just excited about some quality time together
- hold hands, tell her that I love her
- say “yes” a lot more often than usual (e.g. yes, we can get lunch at a cafe, yes you can sit on my lap, yes we can go here, yes we can do play a game on my phone)
- talk to each other and listen to each other
- discuss how lucky we were to have special time together on our way home
- I always thank her for such a lovely day
Our most recent love-bombing experience included a trip on the train to buy my daughter a new pair of school shoes, using the chore as a good excuse to spend the day out. She sat on my lap on the train, told me about her week at school, held my hand while we wandered in and out of the shops and chose where to have lunch. Then we went to a nearby park and I pushed her on the swing for at least half an hour, I had a swing, we see-sawed, chased each other and had lots of laughs. She wanted to stop at a pet store to look at the fish, so we spent about an hour watching them swim around, mesmerised by their flashes of colour. Then we stopped for an ice-cream on our way back to the train station. She curled up on my lap on the train trip home and looked up at me and told me she loved me. I promised myself then and there that this tradition was going to continue!
The results were instant and long lasting. I felt more connected to her back in normal family life. I felt like we were allies in life for a change.
Since it’s hard to find time to have a whole day together, I’ve started incorporating some special “Mum-on-one” time with her, at least once a fortnight, sometimes once a week depending on how much she needs it, and how much other stuff is going on. I’ve also just started doing this with my son, while we’re lucky enough to have grandparents care for the baby every now and then.
This Mum-on-one time is a bit different because it’s more regular. But they still know it’s all about them and that they will have ALL of my attention for a little bit of time on a regular basis. During this time they know things work a bit differently, that they have a bit more control over things because I don’t have 4 people to co-ordinate. This certainly doesn’t negate the need to spend quality time every day, but it feels super special and is certainly working. Our dialogue is changing. We are speaking to each other in a much more natural, mature and loving way. We are getting used to being nicer and kinder and more loving with one another.
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