Love Bombing by Oliver James – does this book present a new concept, reheated advice from other ‘parenting gurus’, or just plain common sense?

 

As the animated thread on Mumsnet shows, books that tell us parents what we are doing wrong and how to fix it are met with suspicion, hope, derision and praise. The ‘Holy Grail’ of parenting advice simply does not exist. While some parents reach for a book from the Attachment Parenting shelf, others will head for F for Gina Ford.
Oliver James’s new book ‘Love Bombing‘, according to the blurb will reset our children’s ‘emotional thermostat’ and is advertised as a way to help children with behavioural problems, ADHD and Autism.

‘I have had similar reports of sustained success – followed up one to two years after the love bombing – from parents helping children with violent aggression, myriad anxiety problems, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), sleeplessness, perfectionism and even autism’

 

Now, I won’t comment on the ADHD/Autism part of this, as I don’t have the necessary experience and knowledge – there are a few posters on the MN thread who are scathing of this and I hope that some parenting bloggers will join the debate. I will say that aiming this book at parents whose children have behavioural problems could be seen as a craven attempt to take advantage of desperate parents.

My own experience shows that giving children more attention does not mean that they will take over the household. When my daughter was around three or four years old, she went through a trying period. I talked to her nursery teacher about this, and was rather taken aback by her reply. I should spend more time with my daughter and give her more attention.

When you have 2 young children at home, it is tempting to reject this advice. How much MORE attention can I give them, I hardly have any free time at all. When my husband and I sat down and talked about it, we realised that attention is more than just being there and occasionally saying, ‘Oh, lovely painting dear. What a large nose Papa has!’.

I had a three year old dynamo, a one year old toddler, a household, was trying to set up my own business teaching English, friends to see, a busy life. And she was simply not getting the attention she needed, and was causing chaos to get that attention. Looking back on it, it was incredibly obvious, but lost in day to day life, I hadn’t notice.

We resolved to spend more time with her, and we soon saw a marked improvement in her behaviour. We didn’t do the full ‘love bombing’ that James recommends – he suggests taking a day or a weekend to spend one on one with your child, and allowing them to set the agenda.

I am a bit concerned that the Love Bombing idea seems to involve nights away in a hotel, or spending a whole day out with one child. How does this work within the family then? We have two children who absolutely love spending time together. I cannot see how I could take one of them away for the weekend to do fun stuff, and leave the other child at home with my husband. And there does seem to be the implication that it is the mother who is dealing with this issue.

Weekends are precious, and we like to spend the time together. I could see us doing a Family Love Bomb, where we let the kids take charge for the weekend – that sounds like fun.

 

Parenting books* are odd buggers, really. It goes against everything that I have learned on this parenting journey to sign up to one particular parenting philosophy and stick to it, as rigidly as a Gina Ford devotee to her schedule.
Every family is different, every child is different. While Gina Ford may work for some families, it doesn’t work for all. Attachment Parenting might be great for some, but other children might hate it.

When I see how totally different my children are, I realise that I adapt my parenting methods for each child.

My son is organised, methodical and stubborn. To get him to move in the morning, I need to set rules,  ’Right, lets get dressed, have breakfast and get ready for school and if there is time left, you can play on the iPad for 10 minutes, but we have to leave at 8:45am’.

My daughter is scatty, disorganised and easy going. She needs to be reminded to take her dinner money, asked if she has her swimming stuff and cajoled to stop playing with the bloody dog and have her breakfast.

Son needs a timetable, which he will work through. Daughter needs more attention and gentle humour to jolly her along.

 

To be fair, Oliver James does not say that his way is the only way, and it may be something that is worth trying, even on a smaller scale. You don’t even need to buy the book, as the general idea is already in the articles that he has written. If it works for you, and you wish to know more about it then you can buy the book afterwards.

 

One thing I have noticed is that my children’s behaviour improves when I have an iPhone free afternoon. As hard as I find it to give up my Twitter addiction for the day, it really does improve communication between parent and child when neither are glued to a screen. It is stating the obvious, as is James’s advice to bomb your child with love, but a gentle reminder is needed now and again.

 

What do you think? If you have tried, or would like to try ‘Love Bombing’, please let me know how you got on.

 

 

 

 

*If you are going to read a parenting book then I would recommend the Mumsnet bible Why Did Nobody Tell Me which included advice from their users. Real women, mothers of real children, giving their advice. It is condensed MN Talk really, with slightly less swearing.

 

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1 Comment

 

  1. October 1, 2012  1:14 pm by Sophie J Reply

    I only discovered 'love bombing' whilst reading an article in the Mail on Sunday magazine yesterday. I have a 5, soon to be 6 year old, who is ASD but being high-functioning, he attends mainstream school albeit with a classroom learning assistant. My youngest is 3, soon to be 4 and is currently undergoing several developmental checks (all of which seem to take an age), to try to decipher his 'special needs'. As a mother, I feel we are always the first to highlight any concerns with our children, be it physically or mentally and I was aware of my eldest having some issues, from a very early age. This, however, was often dismissed as 'he'll do it when he's ready....'. I hear this readily and even now, with a diagnosis in place, am still told that what he does is 'typical' of a child of 5. Believe me, nothing Oscar does is 'typical' and what is this anyway? I have banned myself from using the word 'normal', under the best advice given which is that 'normal is just a cycle on the washing machine'.


    Anyway, I digress. Freddie, my youngest also has some speech delay (usually the first step with ASD too, I believe), but on top of that he has this boundless energy (more than that of an a-typical 3 year old), which culminates on his inability to remain still or focus attention on anything for very long; biting, punching, jumping on and at people and recently, waking up at least twice a night - wide awake and clearly bored and full of life. I believe he has ADHD but am still working towards convincing those in 'the know' that this needs to be taken into account when analysing his behaviour. Of course, seeing him in a nursery environment or a doctor's office is not the realistic environment to observe him, so I now plan to start a video-diary, in the hope that it provides more insight to his daily behaviour.


    Getting to the subject here, I read about this 'love bombing' (warning, when you 'google this, you are likely to uncover some sexual peversity using the same title!). I can see how this is a believable alternative to disciplining as the 'time-out' has no effect on Freddie whatsoever, despite many, many, MANY attempts. He is constantly asking for a cuddle and clings to me, rather than his father, a lot of the time. He is also very bright and knows his letters, numbers and can read some words already but I also see that once he has achieved something, he then wants to move on and becomes bored when no challenge presents itself. He can be very moody and short-tempered, plus has the ability to cry at the drop of a hat. I thought, having read the article about Oliver James's theory & book, to give it a try. What's the worst that can happen?....he feels over-loved? I'll risk it! With children with difficulties or just children who need extra support, for whatever reason, being given regular reassurance that you are loved and valued, with the warmth of expressive love from their parents, can only be beneficial and even allow the seratonin levels to increase - ergo: happy children. Will definitely post any results I find, either way.

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