- Have you had a new baby recently and your older child has struggled with the transition?
- Do you have two, three, or more children, and struggle with their sibling rivalry?
- Do you work outside of the home and away from your child and struggle with their sleep or tantrums?
- Do you feel a disconnect with your tween or teen?
If you answer "yes" to any of these then there is a very high chance that love bombing is the answer to your problems. It may sound like a hippy hangover from the seventies, but love bombing is actually grounded in solid scientific theory - and it really works.
What is Love Bombing?
Love bombing is simply a way to reconnect with your child. When children misbehave, they are often showing us that they need more attention from us. Their behaviour indicates the uncomfortable feelings they have when they are uncertain of our love. The worst part of this, is that when children enter a persistent pattern of undesirable behaviour, we find it harder to be compassionate towards them. When your amiable, happy and easy going child turns into a sullen, shouty, rude child it can be hard to remember all of the things you love about them. You can often feel as if you and your child are at odds with each other. Them being the cause of your problems and you theirs. This fractured relationship serves only to worsen the situation and often is the cause of prolonged difficult behaviour. Often when this stage is reached non-gentle discipline methods are used: naughty step, time out, sending to their room etc...can you see the problem here? They all enforce even more separation and naturally make the problems worse! The answer is to break the cycle, enter love bombing.
What Can it Help With?
The answer here is pretty much everything, however it is particularly suited to families where children are struggling with having enough time alone with their parents (and when children are young, by parents I really mean the primary caregiver). If you have recently had a new baby, your child has started daycare or school, you've returned to work, or you just seem to not have time individually with each child. Love bombing re-creates the bond that may have loosened and thus fixes the problem.
How Do you Do It?
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding love bombing. The top two are 1. that you must always say "yes" to your child when you're doing it and 2. you can do it with more than one child at once. These are both entirely incorrect.
Love bombing means reconnecting with children, not being permissive. Children should have as much control as possible, but not too much! It's not appropriate to let them eat five bags of sweets, spend hundreds in build a bear or stay up to midnight, that doesn't heal connection. What should you do? Hand control to the child in terms of what you do. Tell them that you want to have some time with them (ideally a minimum of two hrs, eight would be optimal) alone and you would love them to pick what you do. That could be swimming, a picnic in the park and playing on the swings, the cinema and a meal together, a show at the theatre, visiting a zoo, staying home and baking and painting... ideally here they pick what you do. Remember your focus is on bonding and falling back in love with your child. That means no mobile phones (unless in an emergency), no quickly checking your work emails and absolutely, categorically no other children present. Your focus is solely on your child (only one of them). You can't do love bombing with a toddler with a baby in a sling. That's not the one-to-one time they need, that's just doing something nice with the baby (the cause of their upset) present. Only you and your (one) child should be present and involved.
What do you do during your love bombing time? Well as much as possible that is led by your child, by this I mean what games you play, what restaurant you eat in, what cakes you bake etc... this absolutely doesn't mean you have a whole day of not saying no though. This day is not about spoiling the child with material treats, it's about showering them with your love and attention.
Importantly when your love bombing is over you should talk about it with your child and plan another day in the not too distant future (remember, love bombing doesn't have to be complicated or expensive!). If possible you should try to squeeze in little extra top ups more regularly, these top ups need only last for an hour, or even half an hour. Again, it is the one-to-one time that is important here, nothing else.
The results from love bombing can be really huge, the most surprising result is often how you feel about your child after doing it, realising why you love your child so much and enjoying their company is often the best outcome, after all, lots of difficult behaviour from children stems from how their parents feel.
For more on love bombing see my new Gentle Discipline Book - out now in the UK and coming soon in the USA and Canada,. You can also check out Psychologist Oliver James' website at www.lovebombing.info