For information about bonding with a younger child, tap here.
Whether you felt that instant zing of connection the very first day you met your child or your bond is still developing, the truth is that the two of you still haven’t had the chance to know each other for very long yet. As your family’s journey continues, building and strengthening that bond with your child is going to be one of the most important adventures you take together.
Meeting your child’s needs
One of the biggest ways any adult builds a trusting relationship with any young child is by responding to their needs and wants. You’ll do this naturally, by feeding your little one when they’re hungry, bathing them when they’re young enough to need that, and soothing them when they’re upset. For adoptive parents of older children, this kind of caretaking can take longer to feel natural, but it’s an important part of bonding. Every day-in-day-out, routine caretaking action will help to prove to your little one that they can trust you, and that your family’s bond is going to last.
Adapting to your child
When welcoming a new child into your home, it’s important to remember that they’re not just gaining new connections – your child is saying goodbye to old ones as well. If your child is old enough to communicate with you about some of the things they’re missing – whether that’s a certain kind of home, a specific routine, or a much-loved caregiver, you can help them feel cared-for and at home by doing your best to incorporate the things they miss into your family’s routine.
While parents of older children don’t have quite as many easy opportunities for snuggles with a new child as the parents of babies, hugs, kisses, and other forms of physical affection can be powerful tools for showing affection and belonging. It can also take a little while for children to be comfortable enough with new parents to want physical affection, and respecting boundaries is another key part of bonding.
Find shared interests
The more time you spend together, the stronger your family’s bond will be. By playing with your child, reading together, and exploring new activities to find the ones you like to do together, you’re building a strong base of shared experiences to form the foundation of your family. In the short-run, when you’re still figuring out what you have in common, this might mean choosing a project to work on together that also helps your new child feel more at home, or more a part of the family, like decorating your child’s new bedroom, or planning a family trip.