Janae B. Weinhold
Children’s emotional needs initially get met through their relationships with adult caregivers via reciprocal interactions involving giving and receiving love. This reciprocal interaction is also known as bonding, an interactive process that occurs through repeated daily interactions such as feeding, changing diapers, playing, bathing, rocking and exploring.
Bonding also involves emotionally charged exchanges between children and those who care for them. If these emotional exchanges are love-based, the child learns to trust. If they are fear-based, the child learns to distrust.
Bonding involves specific kinds of interplay between the child and caregivers, such as eye contact, touch, holding, talking and singing and mirroring or recognizing the child’s unique qualities. Secure bonding creates feelings of safety and predictability and forms the foundation for positive mental health.
Children who are securely bonded act self-confident, have strong self-esteem and function at high levels socially, emotionally, mentally and physically. They are able to engage in reciprocal relationships where they can both give and receive love, are compassionate, express concern about the feelings and needs of others, have well-developed creativity and cooperate with both other children and adults. Securely bonded children are often seen as ‘successful without people recognizing that their success sets on a strong foundation of bondedness with adult caregiver