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'Love Bombing' - the solution to children's emotional and behavioural issues?

(144 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Sep-12 12:29:33

This week sees the publication of a new book by Oliver James called Love Bombing: Reset Your Child's Emotional Thermostat.

'Love bombing' involves spending bursts of one-on-one time with your child, away from other family members, in which you hand over to them as much control as possible while bombarding them with expressions of love. According to James, it's a technique which can help a wide range of challenging emotional and behavioural issues in children. 

The idea might seem counterintuitive; often, when children's behaviour is causing problems, parents feel that the solution is more control, not less. But James insists the system work - and that many children could benefit, from the fundamentally happy, to those with depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, perfectionism, even Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and autism. He explains the principles behind the technique in our guest blog this week.

What do you think? Does it sound like something you might try? Or is it an unrealistic 'fix-all' which can't really address deeper problems? A new idea - or something you've already tried?

Let us know if you take up this blog-prompt - we've a signed copy of Oliver's book to give to the first name out of the hat next Wednesday! And if you're not (yet wink) a blogger - let us know what you think here on the thread.

cheekymonk Thu 27-Sep-12 12:43:19

I think it sounds fantastic and definitely think it could work.

sittinginthesun Thu 27-Sep-12 12:53:48

I read about this over the weekend, and I think it does work. Certainly, I have always found that the was to handle a difficult period with either of my children, was to give them very specific one to one time and lots of attention, so I guess many of us do this instinctively anyway.

mum2twoloudbabies Thu 27-Sep-12 13:00:02

This absolutely works. I use this technique with my dd who does struggle with managing her emotions and it often manifests itself in tantrums and bad behaviour. Never realised it had an actual theory behind it or a name it was just something we did instinctively that worked. Never needed to go as far as a weekend away though!

Brycie Thu 27-Sep-12 13:18:50

Yes I think this works too, I didn't realise it had a name either until I read about it in the paper.

Brycie Thu 27-Sep-12 13:22:12

Sometimes we have a day when everyone has to do what one of us wants and they know it's ok as they get their da in turn. So one might want to play board games literally ALL DA?Y (so boring but actually becomes fun) and with another we have to all have a go at awful shooty computer games, which is really, really funny and you get to see how bad/not bad they are. Then the computer games fan has to go out and play hockey which is just dire and equally amusing. But it all works somehow, and that child feels so special all day.

Lottapianos Thu 27-Sep-12 13:28:47

Great technique. We use it at work and so many parents have a hell of a hard time giving up any sort of control at all with their children, they don't realise it until they try. Even just 5 minutes a day playing with a child how they choose to play makes a huge difference to their communication skills and their emotional wellbeing.

sheeplikessleep Thu 27-Sep-12 13:32:56

I'm definitely going to try this with DS1 who is nearly 5. One-on-one time has always helped us feel closer to each other, but the idea of relinquishing control for a period of time is something I've not tried (not sure a whole weekend staring at a TV screen eating chocolate might be too long though! Which is what I'd predict he'd choose!)

I do ask him what he wants to play and what games and we do that. But I've never positioned it as 'his time' him.

bialystockandbloom Thu 27-Sep-12 13:37:34

I would be, erm, interested to see what evidence he has to back up his claim that it makes any measurable difference to children with autism.

If anyone is interested this has already been discussed a little bit on the Special Needs Children board. Consensus there (to plagiarise a poster on that thread, hope she won't mind wink) seemed to be that it sounds like a nice idea, and who wouldn't benefit from having some unconditional love and attention. Not quite the same thing as solving major behavioural problems just like that.

Belo Thu 27-Sep-12 13:43:47

I think it works. I've been doing this for a while without knowing there was a name for it! My DDs are 7 and 10 and we have phases of bad behaviour every now and then. I blame it on the fact that me and DH both work long hours and the kids sometimes don't get the attention they should individually. A bit of time one on one really seems to get the girls to snap out of the bad phase they're in. I think it makes them feel they're important, and because of that their behaviour improves.

I love the name 'love bombing'. DD2 hasn't been at her best on the behaviour front recently. Perhaps I'll bomb her this weekend grin

Brycie Thu 27-Sep-12 13:45:33

Yes that would be interesting because while some behavioural problems can be caused by a lakc of attention and resolved by giving it, you can't say that autism is caused by a lack of love and attention, that would be going back years and years in the ideas about what causes it. I'm sorry if by saying "I think it could work" I implied that, I just mean it can work with behaviour problems generally (in my opinion and experience)

purplepansy Thu 27-Sep-12 13:46:11

So he's taking what sounds like something most parents should do anyway (play with your child and express your unconditional love for them) and coined a fancy new name for it...hmmm. Are people seriously going to pay money to be told that they should play with their kids? (I am soooo in the wrong job if so, think I'll set myself up as a 'parenting consultant')

MadameOvary Thu 27-Sep-12 13:49:45

I do this with DD and it works well but she is NT so cant comment on behavioural issues.
Nothing to do with her spending too much time on iPad and me feeling guilty, oh no

GladbagsGold Thu 27-Sep-12 13:52:34

Ever since Oliver James wrote that tripe about nurseries not being good for under 3s (unless of course their mother is depressed) I try to avoid any of his helpful advice and have mentally filed him away with Gillian McKeith and Andrew Wakefield.

I agree with this wholeheartedly: who wouldn't benefit from having some unconditional love and attention. Not quite the same thing as solving major behavioural problems just like that.

QuangleWangleQuee Thu 27-Sep-12 13:52:54

I did something similar with my daughter when she was feeling pushed out by a younger sibling and behaving badly as a result. I took her out for "Mum and ** Time" Let her choose what we did, gave her lots of attention and positivity. It worked really well. smile

GladbagsGold Thu 27-Sep-12 13:53:53

By the way, MNHQ, much as I would love to win a competition, for the love of God please don't send me his book!!!!

Lottapianos Thu 27-Sep-12 13:58:41

'So he's taking what sounds like something most parents should do anyway (play with your child and express your unconditional love for them) and coined a fancy new name for it...hmmm'

I agree most parents 'should' do this purplepansy but in my experience, most don't. Even parents who do make the effort to spend time with their children really struggle with letting the child lead and take charge for brief periods. And sad as it undoubtedly is, I have worked with hundreds of parents for whom playing with their child was a whole new concept which they had to work really hard at. It sounds bizarre but it's true.

cestlavielife Thu 27-Sep-12 14:07:30

it is not new.

the late Dr Greenspan called it floortime stanleygreenspan.com/about-floortime/ the main principle being "•Follow your child’s lead, i.e. enter the child’s world " and the approach yes can work with special needs - but treat/cure autism? the mind boggles. as said above, let's not go back to the idea of autism being caused by refrigerator mothers....

so he is wrapping up "spend time with your child one on one" into a so-called brand new approach and giving it a nice middle class name..... and nicely allows the well off to spend time in expensive hotels while doing it ! (rather than focusing on free stuff)

Oliver James has some good points to make but a lot of what he says is either common sense (spend time with your child! duh) or intended to pile on more guilt wrapped in science - nursery and cortisol levels and bla bla bla

cestlavielife Thu 27-Sep-12 14:11:17

and we should consider why playing with your own child and spending time with them is alien to parents.
where is this not being taught? why isnt it in the free NHS birth to five books etc? why dont prenatal classess spend more time on this than on the single birth event which lasts only a few hours (ok mrore in some cases)
(tho i have picked up leaflets at libary ec for parents which do emphasise the importance of spending time, reading with child, playng etc... does it really need a fancy name and marketing? perhaps it does... alongside the "five a day" campaign...

HeathRobinson Thu 27-Sep-12 14:15:12

But love bombing has been on MN for years. There's a thread back in 2005 where aloha talks about it, here.

I seem to remember it always being mentioned when teenagers going through a difficult phase were talked about.

Is this different?

Lottapianos Thu 27-Sep-12 14:16:38

'why dont prenatal classess spend more time on this than on the single birth event which lasts only a few hours (ok mrore in some cases) '

Excellent point cestlavie. I agree there is a lot of written information around about the importance of play, reading etc but to be honest, a lot of parents don't read information, for various reasons. Also, it's such a brand new concept to so many parents that they actually need to be shown how to do it - if you just tell them to play with their child, they have no idea where to start. They don't even know how to spend time with a child, just how to 'be' with a child. It's really sad and the impact on every single aspect of the child's development is huge.

CachuHwch Thu 27-Sep-12 14:19:55

"Are people seriously going to pay money to be told that they should play with their kids?"
It isn't that simple.
I read about this in the Guardian, and cut it out to keep. I play with my children, interact, do stuff with them every day- But we rarely get a day where they take the reins and get to decide what they'd like to do.
My DS1 does not have any behavioural problems, but he is short on self-esteem.

Just mentioning to DS1 that we're going to have a special day, just him and I, and he gets to make the decisions etc, has made a lot of difference.

I don't know what "take up this blog prompt" means, but I'll have that book, ta very much! grin

CaseyShraeger Thu 27-Sep-12 14:21:16

Giving children bursts of very focused one-to-one attention and control over what happens isn't a new idea - I can think of several parenting books going back several years that suggest it. The only "new" bit of this seems to be the "bombarding them with expressions of love" bit (versus just commenting very frequently on what your chikd is doing without asking questions, which is what the others suggest) - I'd be interested in the evidence for that aspect in isolation. I'd wonder whether, if you are "bombarding" them, you can also be giving them proper attention and control, because that seems to be imposing your own agenda on the course of conversation.

Lottapianos Thu 27-Sep-12 14:23:04

I''d wonder whether, if you are "bombarding" them, you can also be giving them proper attention and control, because that seems to be imposing your own agenda on the course of conversation'

Absolutely and so, if the parent doesn't feel comfortable with verbal expressions of 'love', or doesn't mean what they say, the child will pick up on this and it could undermine the whole experience.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Sep-12 14:24:28

Hello all - just a quick one to let you know that Oliver's written a guest blog about Love Bombing this week - it's over here.

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