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Quality time: What does Oliver James’ “Love Bombing” technique say about our parenting?

Quality time: Do we need to do more of it?

Quality time: Do we need to do more of it?

Step away from this if you don’t want to read me being a bit serious for a change…! It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does it’s usually worth paying a little bit of attention to I promise….I have read a lot recently about the Love Bombing technique from Oliver James. Not least on our blog where Beckie, our Parenting Coach, talked about it within her recent post on whether its the answer to reducing toddler tantrums. There is also a fair amount about it in the national press including this article from the man himself in the Guardian.

I don’t want to chat about the technique itself; not yet anyway.

However, I would like to take a step back….

The idea of love bombing seems to me to be making sure you pay complete attention to your child for a sustained period of time, and give them back control; at the same time as re-assuring them that you love them.

James states that this is different to spending “quality time” with your child; as the focus is totally on them, what they want, and they are in complete control. The time you spend “love bombing” is built up as an event, and something to look forward to.

I am not arguing that this doesn’t work. In fact, Oliver James has given countless examples of when it has.

I am saddened, and this applies to me as much as anyone else, that I don’t seem to be able to find the time to “love bomb” regularly during the course of the day.

I tell my kids I love them regularly, I even say it after they have just screamed, stamped their feet, and possibly punched me in the head…we have had feisty tantrums at Chez KiddyCharts in the past you know…

“I will always love you. No matter what.”

For some reason, its important for me to tell them how much I love them, and that will never change. Perhaps its because I know nobody is perfect. There are plenty of examples of that in just my family, and I feel they need to know that my love as a mother is unconditional, and as parents we are all trying to help our children be the best they can be. Our love is always a part of that.

So perhaps the key lesson out of this new research from Oliver James is that we need to tell our kids more how much we love them, and spend more time with them, no matter how busy we are?

It’s all too easy to “let kids get on with it” particularly as they get older and are more able to entertain themselves.

We now have television, iPads, iPhones, a million electronic toys, and bits of plastic that can keep them entertained, when perhaps all they want is a half hour of time with us ever few days when they have our undivided attention.

Oliver James says that love bombing is not the same as quality time with our children, but maybe more quality time with them means we might need love bombing just that little bit less?

I appreciate that the technique works across a breadth of issues, from the small to the more complex; spending more quality time with your child isn’t necessarily going to solve the more complex behavioural issues experienced by some, but would it help to reduce the need for love bombing a little?

I put my hands up, I am as guilty as the next man; I seem to find a million and one other things to do as a working mum other than spend time with my kids during the week. In fact, when I do play with them, I am crap. I keep thinking about all the other stuff that I need to do…

At the weekend, it is different, we have an extra pair of hands, and we make time for the kids; often they choose what we are doing. However, during the week, I can be distracted by so many other things. Are my kids suffering?

They have their moments, like all children, would that quality time reduce those “moments”? Does the success of the technique simply mean that all of us are not spending enough time paying attention to our kids?

Who knows, but I would be very interested to hear your views? What do you think? Do you feel that you don’t spend enough quality time with your kids? Do you think that’s just a way of life in modern times?

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Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Mark Richards

Wednesday 17th of October 2012

Well, my kids are teenagers now, but when they were little we had our fair share of tantrums and fights and we tried most techniques for coping with them. Did any of them work? I don’t think so, and I’m sceptical of love bombing. I also think it’s damn difficult for parents to do anything consistently – one day you’re tired, the next you’re not. One day work has been awful, the next day everything has gone well. Inevitably, this impacts on how you react to your children when you come home. I’m also slightly sceptical of the notion of quality time – to a 3 year old, going to the shop to buy frozen peas with Dad is quality time.

The one thing I think we got right with our kids was that we never stopped talking to them. They’re teenagers now, and touch wood, we have a pretty good relationship with all of them. Well, apart from my daughter this morning…


Wednesday 17th of October 2012

Cheers, Mark. And I agree with what you are saying to some extent, though I like to keep an open mind on love bombing until I feel I know more about it. As for consistency; I think as long as you are doing your best, 90-95% is as good as its ever gonna get! Talking is important, as is listening of course...and if we can get them to continue to talk throughout their lives; we've all done a grand job.

Quality time, often does just boil down to any time with them, when you aren't focused on too much else, and if that means going to the supermarket with them, then so be it. However, my trips to the supermarket with my three year olds usually ended in disaster... ;-)

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