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Bond with your children this summer

Lighthouse column
By: Angela Ponivas, M.S.W. Special to The News Messenger
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Summer is here and children are now out of school and spending more time with parents and caregivers. This is an opportune time to create magical memories and to build a stronger bond with your child. Bonding with your child or children is of vital importance for their overall health ? physical, emotional and psychological. Understanding the importance of bonding and the methods in which you can bond with your child will help you and your child forge a great relationship. So what is this bonding all about? Bonding is all about developing a mutual emotional connection. The way you treat and behave with your child should give him/her a sense of security and comfort and help establish a sense of closeness. It is up to you, as the parent, to help your child develop his/her self-worth and self-esteem. When real bonding occurs, your child begins to feel a sense of belonging to the family. Some of the signs of healthy bonding are: You have genuine interest in your child and his/her activities. You hold and touch your child tenderly and affectionately. Your child develops the confidence to make independent decisions. Your child feels secure and comfortable. Your child has a great sense of self-worth and self-esteem. The following are some of the methods that you can employ to build a natural, healthy bond with your child: Talk to your child as much as possible. Make sure there is plenty of communication between you. Speak to your child in a loving and caring manner. When you talk to your child, get down to the child?s level to make eye contact. Touch and hold your child lovingly and tenderly. Do not expect too much from your child. Appreciate the items that your child does best. Give plenty of encouragement to the items that your child is hesitant or reluctant to do. Do not expect your child to behave like an adult. Children will be children?forgive them and teach them the right way to do things. Spend quality time with your child. Play games that your child is interested in that are at his/her level of ability and understanding. Listen to your child?s problems. It may seem trivial to you but not for the child. Offer sympathy and support. Encourage your child to build a circle of friends. When dealing with problems in the family, be honest to your child. Let him or her be in the know. This will help them cope better during domestic disturbances. Provide support and confidence to your child when he/she faces the ruthless realities of life and becomes scared and concerned about the future. Allow your child to be his/her own person. Do not force your views on your child. Encourage independent thinking. Over the summer, if you cannot be at home with your child, try to find a caretaker with whom your child can bond with in your absence. It can be a daycare facility or a close relative. With whomever you choose, it is imperative that your child forms a strong bond. After all, children are our most precious possessions and we want to give them the best foundation that will help them to build a good future. For more information on bonding with your child, Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center offers parenting classes, family counseling and more. Strengthening individuals and families is our mission. Simply call 645-3300 to learn more about the classes and services offered at no charge to the community. Angela Ponivas, M.S.W., is the Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center?s executive director. Her phone is 645-3300; address is 427 A St., Suite 400; and Web site is lighthousefrc.com.