July 6, 2012
I Love You Rituals by Dr. Becky Bailey begins with the explanation that "I Love You Rituals are delightful interactions and games adults can play with children infancy to eight years of age, which send the message of unconditional acceptance". These techniques are based on caring touch, which we know is necessary for infants to survive and children to thrive, creating an environment of acceptance and purposeful, positive, present-focused attention. The two most common mistakes that parents make are being too busy to be present and focused on our children and unintentionally teaching them that they must either be extra special or misbehave to receive attention from us, according to Dr. Bailey. I Love You Rituals are easy ways to prevent these mistakes.
In addition to expressing unconditional acceptance, I Love You Rituals can also help families build attachment and create a shared experience. These games can help families connect and can help parents and children reconnect when distress has interrupted the relationship of nurture and trust. I Love You Rituals are fun for everyone which builds positive relationships within the family. They also help children improve their skills in socialization and increase attention span. When you play pretend with your child, you will be helping him or her learn about imagination and creativity. For some children who have been adopted connecting, socializing, attention span, creativity, and imagination may not come naturally without these kinds of learning experiences.
One place to start is by reciting simple poems or fairy tales, things you already know, and add in hand motions to make it more interactive with your child. One of the basic concepts is to add fun into everyday tasks, such as removing shoes. When this is done with a focus on connecting, the task may take longer but the impact is huge. Even in the most mundane parenting tasks you can connect with your child, touching, loving, and having fun together. Seek out opportunities to increase loving touch and words of affirmation. By looking into your child’s eyes you can also give them quality as well if that is their love language. Compliments can be about the beautiful toes you found as you removed your child’s shoes or it may be about how much you love seeing your child’s smile. As you seek out opportunities for loving touch remember that tickling is not a part of I Love You Rituals because it can be experiences as aggressive by many children, especially those not comfortable yet with loving touch. While doing all these things, you will open the door for emotional self-disclosure by your child when he or she is ready to share more with you.
When your child yells, "Do it again!", you will know that he or she is both happy and feeling connected to you. Dr. Bailey encourages parents to persist in using I Love You Rituals even if your child resists or appears to be unattached. It may take some time, but this is a way to build attachment. It is less fun for parents when we do not receive the positive reinforcement of smiles and giggles from our children. However, while I Love You Rituals can be just as enjoyable for parents, the purpose is providing for your child’s emotional needs.
One of the best things about I Love You Rituals is that at most they require very inexpensive supplies, but many are free, simply requiring your engagement and investment. I Love You Rituals is an easy book to read with techniques parents can try immediately. Dr. Bailey also discusses some of the basics in attachment. This is an excellent read for any parent of a small child and could be very helpful for parents and children adjusting to adoption.