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For parents, carers and adults looking to connect with their children in a way that is meaningful

It’s well known that our early years are important for good mental health in later life, but I’ve often been asked by parents why that is.

Positive connections between caregivers and their children support a child’s biochemistry and neurobiology for a lifetime. It’s scientifically evidenced  to be fundamental in laying the foundations for long-term psychological and physical wellbeing, fostering resilience[1].

Bonding experiences give children a sense of safety and security in the world. This directly links to the development of the autonomic nervous system which affects, levels of anxiety, depressive moods, stress disorders. It also facilitates the development of our social brain which supports loving, nurturing, healthy behaviours and generally help navigate life’s difficulties[2].


When does connection occur and what is it?
A connection occurs when a person is open and available for another. Establishing social connections and bonds with people can help us feel valued and seen.

A parent is like a fantastic teacher for all age groups conveying messages through facial expressions, tone of voice, movement and touch, that contribute to enriching experiences.

But it’s not always easy to establish good emotional connections and this can leave caregivers feeling not good enough which may leave them feeling guilt and shame. Children can be defensive and there may be many reasons they’re unable to connect.

No family is the same. The beauty and strength of parents and caregivers is their journey to know their children. There is no such thing as the perfect parent and children gain from repairing disruptions in their connection.


How can I make that connection?
When things aren’t too complicated there are a few ways how:

Make time and space to actively listen. Let your child know you can hold them in mind even when you’re busy.
Touch – even resting a hand on a wrist releases the love hormone oxytocin.
Creative and imaginative play is the simplest way to engage children. They can communicate what is happening for them in a way that feels safe and non-intrusive. Some caregivers really struggle with this, but children can teach you. Child-led play starts with really noticing what your child is interested in and then going along with it. Once you get an understanding of what they enjoy it gets easier. Then follow their lead and allow them the freedom to show you as long as it’s safe.

When parents find connecting too difficult Child Psychotherapy can help
Psychotherapy is a safe, confidential and non-judgemental place where large and difficult feelings can be explored with a therapist through talking, play and multi-arts. This is how sense-making can begin with children of all ages even when it seems as though you are facing significant challenges.

If you’re interested in exploring therapy for a young person you care for then you can find more information on the UKCP website, including how to find a qualified psychotherapist.


Martino, J., Pegg, J., & Frates, E. P. (2015). The Connection Prescription: Using the Power of Social Interactions and the Deep Desire for Connectedness to Empower Health and Wellness. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 11(6), 466-475. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827615608788. PMID: 30202372; PMCID: PMC6125010.
Gerhardt, S. (2015). Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby's brain. 2nd Edition.
Sunderland, M. (2008). The Science of Parenting.

27 replies
  1. Alireza noche
    Alireza noche says:

    In my opinion, the behavior of the caregivers or the parents of the children should be such that they emphasize the role of their child in the society
    And this behavior is effective in the long term of a person’s life
    Caregivers’ behavior can reduce or increase the child’s anxiety
    And this nervous system has an effect on the development of the social brain that is connected to society

  2. Monir Vakili
    Monir Vakili says:

    In order to communicate with children, you must look at the world like them and understand the environment from their point of view. Children have self-centered thinking and understand everything as they see it, and they cannot put themselves in the shoes of others. It happens to them and they cannot inform their parents. Therapy is very effective and useful for children.

  3. mohammad parsa younesi
    mohammad parsa younesi says:

    significant part of our cognition about world forms in our childhood and as an adult we repeat what we learned in childhood. the most important thing in communicating with children is paying to attention to the difference between generations.

  4. Hannaneh Ghalandari
    Hannaneh Ghalandari says:

    Professor, in my opinion, in order to establish a better and more intimate relationship with their children, parents should first measure their behavior and deal with them in the best way, because the elders (Parents) are children’s behavioral patterns.

  5. Anis Farasat
    Anis Farasat says:

    Accompanying children and participating with them when they play, paying attention to the drawings they draw and showing interest in them, paying attention to their words and many other things are strategies that can be productive in communicating with children. Since everything is founded and started from childhood, the more and better caregivers communicate with children in childhood and take care of their mental health, the children will have better mental health in the future and in their adulthood.

  6. Kimiya khoshbin
    Kimiya khoshbin says:

    ‏Parents are the most important person in the care of children
    ‏Parents can shape the whole personality of a
    ‏child with their behavior
    ‏Parents who are full of love and kindness, pay
    ‏attention to correct behavior, have a lot of enthusiasm for education and behave rationally in all circumstances, will have a healthy child in the future.
    ‏For the better upbringing of our children, it is
    ‏better to be under the supervision of an expert who will help us in their better and healthy upbringing.

  7. parsa younesi
    parsa younesi says:

    parents should talk to their children and find out their talents and interests and help them to improve their talents.

  8. Sara ebadi
    Sara ebadi says:

    Sara ebadi
    The lack of sufficient skills in establishing a relationship between children and parents causes the children to drift away from the family over time, and if they are provided with the opportunity to be in dangerous environments and have bad friends, they soon become deviant and the future of a teenager is easily destroyed. will be

  9. Mohadese salimzade
    Mohadese salimzade says:

    Hello teacher, don’t be tired, in fact, the main character of a person is formed in the family, the way parents treat children is directly related to their upbringing. In order to raise their child well, parents should show their love and affection to their child and on the other hand, consider limits for him. And wherever they have a problem, they must talk to a therapist

  10. Mohadese salimzade
    Mohadese salimzade says:

    Hello teacher, don’t be tired, in fact, the main character of a person is formed in the family, the way parents treat children is directly related to their upbringing. In order to raise their child well, parents should show their love and affection to their child and on the other hand, consider limits for him. And wherever they have problems with eating, they must talk to a therapist

  11. Sahel nafary
    Sahel nafary says:

    In my opinion and according to the things that I have studied recently, the first years of a child’s life, especially the first two years after birth, are very important, because the right and principled way of dealing with parents can create a good future for the child. .
    And the correct treatment of parents in the early years increases self-confidence, reduces anxiety and correct social behavior in adolescence and adulthood.

  12. Armina Armansharif
    Armina Armansharif says:

    It is true that parents have a very influential role in their child’s life and as much as they can lead their child to communicate, they can still deprive their child from communicating with others with their wrong behavior.Therapists are a miracle for children who cannot communicate and give them a beautiful life.

  13. Zeynb nami
    Zeynb nami says:

    Parents are always looking for better ways to communicate with their children. This article shows them how they can strengthen their relationship with their children by using simple but meaningful methods. I recommend all parents and adults to definitely read and use this article.

  14. Maryam farajkhah
    Maryam farajkhah says:

    Hello, respected teacher, parents play an important role in children’s behavior and problems, they should be careful, they should raise their awareness by studying about children, in my opinion, increasing workshops on how to deal with children is very helpful, and parents also accept that they need to study for good communication. with the child

  15. Darya Ghaderi
    Darya Ghaderi says:

    Parents are exactly like a teacher for us, but a teacher who is by our side every moment and everywhere in sickness and problems… and how good it is that the parents have done their duty properly so that their child will not have problems in relationships and social communication in the future. not have and can be a useful person for the society.

  16. Niloofar khoshdel
    Niloofar khoshdel says:

    Dear Dr. Malihi, I am Niloofar Khoshdel from Iranian University. The article you mentioned is very important to be informed in all societies and cultures. By shaping their child’s personality, they have a significant impact on their adulthood. In your opinion, playing with a child is very valuable because it drains the child’s psyche, increases the level of morale and vitality, increases self-confidence and sometimes even talent. finding children and positively changing their life path. I wish from my heart and hope that this awareness and correct communication in fathers and mothers will be transformed into a correct behavior pattern with children…

  17. nasrin shojaee
    nasrin shojaee says:

    In my opinion, in addition to the behaviors that can be done to communicate better with children Get help from consultants who are experts in this field.
    Because with the progress of science and the modernization of these people, it is necessary in this field

  18. zahra kakavand
    zahra kakavand says:

    The knowledge of neurobiology or psycho-neuroscience and socio-neuroscience is one of the new sciences that shows the relationship and location of mental and personality states in the gray area or frontal lobe in the frontal area of the brain. Social and socio-individual issues are also fixed in this part of the brain. These three parts (nerve-social behavior-individual behavior) are related to each other. Emotional and safe behavior of parents and caregivers of the child, as mentioned in the article, in this area of the brain in developing creativity, autonomy, freedom from fear, trust in parents and family, calm behavior and avoiding violent behavior of the child and during adulthood and creativity And trust has a direct effect. The autonomy and leadership of the child and the free behavior of the child are all related to the behavior of the parents and caregivers, and as mentioned in the article, it shapes the personal and social relationship of the child during the growth period.

  19. Mohadeseh khan mirzaie
    Mohadeseh khan mirzaie says:

    In my opinion, there are several things that can be done to better communicate with children
    Spending quality time with children.
    When you talk to your children, try to really listen to them. Ask questions that show you are interested in their thoughts and feelings
    And especially support their interests. Show interest in your children’s hobbies and interests and encourage them to pursue their interests.
    Expressing affection Physical touch is an important way to connect with your children. Hug them and don’t deprive them

    By regards mohadeseh khanmirzaie from iranian univercity

  20. mahnaz nouruzi
    mahnaz nouruzi says:

    I think Children express emotions differently than adults. It is not uncommon for children to act out emotionally or have mood, sleep, and social disturbances because they are not mature enough to express their feelings effectively. Licensed child therapists understand the unique needs of children and have specialized training to communicate with children in child-accessible ways.
    Also, the truth is that looking for a parenting consultant is not a shame at all.
    Deciding to work with a counselor only means that you are brave enough to ask for help. In fact, seeing a child psychologist is the first step in raising a healthy child and getting the help you need.
    good luck

  21. Khadijeh sedaghat
    Khadijeh sedaghat says:

    Follower of your valuable words, dear doctor, during high school, our psychology teacher said a valuable word and it was this: the intimate relationship of parents is the guarantor of a child’s mental health.
    Good luck

  22. Shirin farrokh
    Shirin farrokh says:

    Child and adolescent psychotherapy is not a quick fix or an easy answer. It is a complex and rich process that, over time, can reduce symptoms, provide insight, and improve a child’s or adolescent’s functioning and quality of life.
    Sometimes, a combination of different psychotherapy approaches may be useful. One more thing is that genetic cases cannot be diagnosed and treated in psychotherapy.

  23. fatemeh zare
    fatemeh zare says:

    In our society, we see children who need psychotherapy sessions, but because of the family’s thinking that going to a psychotherapist or psychologist means that the person is crazy or has mental problems, they avoid going to a psychotherapist. In my opinion, it is better for government institutions to have ideas for in-school tests to discover problems.

    I am Fatemeh Zare, a student at Iranian University.

  24. fatemeh zare
    fatemeh zare says:

    Thank you for your thorough article, it seems that most of the problems people have as adults are rooted in their childhood and I think people should study for a few years before deciding to have children. In my opinion, prevention is better than cure. Before the intervention of a psychotherapist is needed, it is better for parents to receive the necessary training to ensure their child’s mental health as much as possible.

    I am Fatemeh Zare, a student at Iranian University

  25. hamidreza taheri
    hamidreza taheri says:

    Dr Malihi ,
    in my opinion parents should increase their informations about this subject

  26. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi,I finished reading this article now and in my opinion this moot point is really important, parents should really care about their children by finding their interests and be kind and geek to make a strong relationship with them.having an intimate,warm and safe relationship helps the child to grow completely and healthy and has almost all the importance in one’s life growth.

  27. leila asghari asl
    leila asghari asl says:

    It was very useful, in my opinion this is an important issue and parents should get a lot of information in this field, because most of the problems we face as adults have their roots in childhood.
    leila asghari asl* iranian virtual university


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