And you want your baby to feel the same way, too, right? You want your child to know he is loved, respected, and valued. You want your child to have a happy childhood, one that prepares him to succeed in relationships and in life.
In other words, you want to nurture your child.
But wanting to and knowing how to are two different matters. We’ve talked about “bonding”–the emotional attachment between parent and child. That’s the foundation. Nurturing builds on that foundation.
So how, exactly, do we nurture children? How do we instill in them the sense they are loved, cared for, and special?
It’s simple. Children learn these “warm fuzzy” feelings the way they learn everything else: through their five senses.
Seeing: What Does Nurturing Look Like?
A child who is being nurtured will see:
- Your eyes looking into his for many long moments – not always at the computer screen or cell phone.
- Your smiling face
- Space that’s clean and safe to play in
- Familiar surroundings—his home
Hearing: What Does Nurturing Sound Like?
A child who is being nurtured will hear:
- Your gentle voice talking to him, pausing to let him “talk” back, and then responding to what he “said”
- Music that assures him there are order, patterns, and rhythm in the world
- His name spoken in love, not anger
- Promises made to him, and kept
Smelling: What Does Nurturing Smell Like?
A child who is being nurtured will smell:
- The scent of his mother as he nuzzles against her
- Familiar foods being prepared
- Pleasant, fresh air when his parents spend time with him outdoors
- A house kept clean for him to explore
Tasting: What Does Nurturing Taste Like?
A child who is being nurtured will taste:
- Toys that are clean, available and safe for him to discover with his mouth
- Breastmilk (or formula) and, later, other favorite foods
- Medicine his parents provide when he is sick
- Healthful food that nourishes his body so he’ll grow up strong
Touching: What Does Nurturing Feel Like?
A child who is being nurtured will feel:
- Tickling and playful wrestling
- Touch that stops when he wants it to
What would you add to these lists? What are some of the things you already do to nurture your baby through his five senses? Does he hear you sing to him? Does he get kisses from you? Does he smell the flowers you pass on your walks?
Then you’ve begun nurturing. You’re taking very practical, tangible actions, and your child’s five senses are telling his little heart that you love him. He is learning you are there to support and encourage him. Way to go! (And now you’ve got the list above to give you more ideas, too.)
Nurturing is a process. It has to happen throughout childhood, and it has to change as your child changes. But you can do it! Watch for our next post, where you will find more encouragement. You’ll find practical things to build into your way of life, empowering you to be a fantastic nurturer.
Want some individualized coaching on how to nurture your child?
Wondering where to begin when you received little nurturing yourself?
Our staff will gladly walk with you through your questions and concerns,
and provide you with one-on-one DVD-based lessons
to point you in the direction you want to go.