Less Stress, More Bonding

Father and son playing in the park at the sunset time. people having fun on the field. concept of friendly family and of summer vacation.
father throwing his son in the air. You’ve had a hard day at work and are feeling stressed. You come home and try to spend some quality time with your child. But all the while, you are distracted, grumpy, grouchy, and impatient. Does this sound familiar? Studies have found that stress can be an obstacle to the parent-child bonding experience.

In the world of psychology, attachment is the emotional bond that forms between an infant and its caregiver. This attachment is the engine of the child’s subsequent social, emotional, and cognitive development, and can have an enduring influence on the child’s ability to form stable relationships in the future.

British psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist. He described attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” Bowlby identified four types of attachment styles: secure, anxious-ambivalent, disorganised and avoidant. Put simply, a secure attachment benefits the child, while an anxious, disorganised, and avoidant attachment does not.

In a review of 285 research studies, scientist Sheri Madigan found 51.6 percent of children showed a secure attachment style across studies. That might sound like very good news, but it isn’t. It means that almost half of the children included in the study did not have a secure attachment to their parents. 

Upon further investigation, the scientists concluded that a secure attachment between children and their parents is more likely to develop if children and parents have lower stress levels. 

So parents, try not to engage your child if you are feeling stressed. Reduce your stress before re-engaging your child so that you can be fully present. Stress can be contagious. Your stress can have a negative impact on your child’s mental health.

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. 

Food for Thought: On a scale of 1 to 10 (Extremely stress all the time), what is your level of stress? In what ways is your stress level is affecting your parenting?