Bonding with your kids . . . it's sometimes easier said than done. Even acclaimed pediatrician Dr. William Sears — author of the bestselling parenting manual The Baby Book — recognizes that it can get a lot harder as they get older. So, where do you begin? Well, when they're babies.
"This is precisely why bonding is so important in the first couple years of life because that's when you lay the foundation for bonding in the later years," Sears told us. "Even bonding with a preborn baby is ideal, but mainly those first two years after the baby is born are crucial. Think about it as an investment in toddlerhood and teenhood."
The reason those early months set the tone for later bonding is because that bonding lays the foundation that the world is a warm and trusting place to live. As Sears explained, the baby will begin to think, "I trust my world. I trust my caregivers. I am safe because I'm held, nursed, loved."
So, what to do if you can't hop in your time machine and go back to those early days with your now-school-aged child? What if those first few years weren't filled with quality bonding moments, whether it was because you had to return to work early, you had older children vying for your attention, or other physical or emotional limitations that often reveal themselves postpartum?
"The earlier you start, the easier it is," Sears said, "but you can catch up at any age."
So, how do you bond with your kids when they seem to prefer the nanny, when you are completely zapped of energy at the end of the day, or when cell phones and iPads get in the way? And how will you maintain what bonds you have built once back-to-school season kicks off? We had Sears walk us through nine of the most common bonding challenges to come up with surprisingly easy solutions.