09/10/2012 10:17 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

How Love Bombing Changed Our Family Life

How a love bomb changed our family life Alamy

Have you ever wished there was a way to re-set your child's emotional thermostat?

OK, so you probably haven't used those exact words, but I bet you've longed for a way to right the wrongs of the parent-child relationship at least once since your embarkation into the world of parenthood.

And now there's a way to do it, according to psychologist Oliver James, author of Affluenza and They *** You Up: How to Survive Family Life.

It's called Love Bombing.

"Love Bombing is a very simple technique for parents who are worried that their child is not smoothly functioning in some area of life," Oliver explains.

"Nearly always the child's problem is in no way the fault of parents, who were only doing their best. But because of one misfortune or another, or a chain thereof, the child's basic brain chemistry is in need of adjustment, usually only a small one. Perhaps surprisingly, rather than a pill being the best way to achieve this, it's by far more effective to alter the way the parent relates to the child. That's what Love Bombing does."


Giving your child a very intense, condensed experience of feeling completely loved and in control for 24-48 hours (and then rekindling that experience daily for half an hour) can result in dramatic shifts in the child's personality and their behaviour.


For that period of time your child is in charge of all the details, from where you stay and what you eat, to how you spend your time and what time you go to bed.

James realises that to some parents this sounds like a recipe for disaster but the results speak for themselves.

So did it help us? Absolutely. I decided to Love Bomb my eldest son when sibling rivalry first began to read its ugly head in our home.

My son, who was six at the time, jumped at the chance to spend a night away from his brother, and for 24 hours he was the boss. He determined when we swam (at every available opportunity), what we ate (a lot of junk food), and when we went to sleep (much later than usual, drifting off to sleep in the same bed while watching telly).

I promised not to so much as glance at my phone during our time away, and we both had a ball.

With no sibling to fight with he behaved impeccably, and when he talked about his brother it was to express, in heartfelt ways, how much he missed him.

And as James predicted, the changes lasted too.

By the time we got home I felt less like my son's emotional thermostat had been reset, and more like our relationship had been expertly finely tuned and re-calibrated. I hadn't expected that but it came as no surprise to James, who describes Love Bombing as 'the first link in a new chain of patterns of relating'.

It should come as no surprise to any parent to learn that lavishing love and attention on your child can dramatically impact the child's behaviour and improve both your relationship and family life in general, and yet discovering this simple truth for myself was a mind-blowing experience.

Love Bombing presents parents with the ability to make a repair when parent-child relationships seem to go awry.

James agrees wholeheartedly. "Whilst early experiences do have enduring consequences, they are rarely unalterable," he says.

Love Bombing restored harmony to our home and helped nip challenging behaviour in the bud. James also asserts that feeling loved is far more important for childhood discipline than rule-making and punishment - and I'm inclined to agree.

One year on from our Love Bomb experiment, a tender touch and a loving word are still more effective means of discipline than raising my voice.

The experience enriched my relationship with my son, but it also deepened the connections between us as a family. It's a technique that I'd recommend to any parent as a potential cure-all for any of the challenges that our children sometimes present.

James agrees:


When it comes to dealing with disobedient or shy or clingy or aggressive or impatient children, love, it seems, really is the answer.


And even in the absence of a glaring behavioural problem, Love Bombing provides a valuable opportunity to reconnect with your kids.

Love Bombing taught me that love does indeed cover a multitude of sins and that making space to make your child feel loved is just about the best investment that any parent can ever make.

Would you agree 'love bombing' is the key to a happy parent-child relationship?

More on Parentdish:

Saying yes for 24 hours. Could you 'free parent'?

How important is it to tell your child 'I love you'?