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5 ways to maintain an emotional connection with your child

Emotional safety means that members in the relationship feel safe enough to be vulnerable.

5 ways to maintain an emotional connection with your child

What is emotional safety and why does it matter? Although emotional safety is a term commonly used in couples' therapy, it also has a powerful impact on the social and psychological well-being of children.


Emotional safety means that members in the relationship feel safe enough to be vulnerable. According to the psychologist Don Catherall, individuals in emotionally safe relationships are more likely to be happier compared to those in emotionally unsafe relationships.

The concept of emotional safety owes much to the research of Stephen Porges and Don Catherall. Porges' studies have proven that we all have an innate need for safety that is wired into our beings and that when we feel emotionally unsafe, our nervous system goes into a state of defense.

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In other words, an absence of emotional safety may lead to a neurological imbalance and to inappropriate social, emotional and communication behaviors. Catherall suggests that there needs to be 'attachment' and 'esteem' before emotional-safety can develop.

In the parent-child relationship, children will feel emotionally safe if they perceive a strong connection to their parents and if they believe that they are held in high esteem. Our children's state of emotional safety largely depends on the "vibes" we send them. Once they feel safe, kids can express their emotions because they know they will not be judged for them.

Here are five things you can do to foster your child's emotional safety:

1. Love your child as is

Author William Martin once said, "You do not have to make your children into wonderful people. You just have to remind them that they are wonderful people. If you do this consistently from the day they are born, they will believe it easily."

Loving your child as is means creating a sense of safety.

  • Tell your child he means the world to you and give him opportunities to feel good about himself.
  • Let him know that he can count on you.
  • Tell him that your world wouldn't be the same if he weren't in it.

2. Validate their emotions

Emotional safety comes from within. It begins by teaching your child to identify and be comfortable with different emotions. Dismissing kids' emotions makes it harder for them to deal with those emotions even in future. Worse, it may lead to the development of secondary emotions such as shame or fear.

Make use of everyday opportunities to help kids connect with their emotional selves. Speak of emotions in a non-accusatory manner. When our kids know that their emotions are valid, they are more likely to react to them in appropriate ways.

For example, when you tell your child you understand his disappointment for not getting the toy he wants, you not only help him put a name on his emotions, you also enable him to understand those emotions better.

3. Remember to address your own emotional needs

An emotionally distant parent will lead to an emotionally distant kid. The best way to help our kids learn about emotions and develop emotionally safe relationships is to deal with our own emotions first.

Our past frustrations, shame and feelings of anger can stir up fears that may influence how we parent. Work with your own emotions to avoid unknowingly projecting them to your child.

For example, don't hide your anger from your kid but remember that our kids watch us to determine how to react to their emotions. Saying something like "I'm going to take 5 minutes to calm down before we talk" shows your kid that everyone experiences anger, but that this is an emotion that can be managed.

4. Listen first, then react

So much is communicated in what is left unspoken. Remember that much of kids' behavior is driven by emotions. Before you react, listen to the unsaid.

When you do respond, be intentional about how you communicate. Remember that voice is a powerful tool—your tone of voice speaks volumes.

Actively listening to your kid also means asking questions to help her feel safe: "Do you want me to come with you?" "How can we make it better?" Simply telling your kid, "I'm here" can help create an environment in which she feels safe.

5. Make more time to connect

Increasing occasions for bonding and playfulness can help foster your child's emotional safety. Interaction fosters feelings of safety.

For example, don't forget about the power of touch. Evidence suggests that touch heals. David Linden, the neuroscientist and author of the book "Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind", suggests that there is no substitute for touch. According to him, most forms of appropriate touch deepen bonding by helping build trust and cooperation

Emotionally safe relationships are built on trust and on the acceptance of the other. When you show your child that you accept and love them, you are doing them a world of good.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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