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Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center Inc.

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Love and Nurturing

Angela Oswalt, MSW

The foremost way you provide encouragement to children is through showing them love and nurturing. Most parents and caregivers have a natural urge to show their children that they are unconditionally accepted, wanted, enjoyed, and loved. For the youngest of children, love is shown through physical exchanges such as holding, hugging, kissing, caressing, and feeding. These actions from the earliest minutes of life increase child-parent bonding, which is necessary for infants to trust their caregivers to meet their basic needs.

As babies explore the world and try new things, these illustrations of love continue to foster a sense of trust as well as lead to feelings of confidence. As your baby grows, you can also expand your methods for communicating love. Beyond the physical, you can smile often and show facial expressions that reflect your baby's emotions. You can laugh with your child, and use uplifting and positive tones when you speak to him or her. You can sing, play, and make babies and toddlers feel included in everyday activities, especially family activities. One way to start family relationship building from day one is to do things together as a family unit (no matter the size or compositions of that unit), as well as making sure that you and your child (or children) have separate time together.

Showing love and affection is an absolutely necessary part of encouraging positive physical, mental, emotional, and social development. It is the most important thing you can provide to your child beyond meeting his or her basic human needs.

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