In his book “Love Bombing – Reset your Child’s Emotional Thermostat,” British psychologist Oliver James suggests a technique to help parents experiencing problematic relationships with their children.
Basically love bombing is designed to reset the emotional thermostats of children aged 3 to puberty. It entails spending a period of time alone with a child, offering them unlimited love and control.
He reports it works for a wide variety of common problems, severe or mild; from defiant – even violent – aggression to shyness, sleeping problems or underperformance at school, ADHD or even autism.
During this special time the child decides what they want and when they want it, within reason, and they get exclusive attention of a parent.
“Throughout the experience, you are trying, as much as possible, to give them the feeling of “whatever I want, I get” – of being in control and of being gratified, as well as bombed with love,” Oliver says. “The love bomb zone is separate from ordinary life. Outside the zone, you continue to set boundaries, consistently and firmly.”
A key practical decision is the length of time to spend in the zone and the frequency. A weekend, a day away or just bursts of a few hours. Whatever the duration, the experience needs to be rekindled daily for half an hour for lasting effects.
“Children are more willing to accept boundaries afterwards,” he says. “The opposite of stricter discipline is often what is required when a child is playing up. They are feeling needy and deprived, loveless and powerless. “Give them an intense period of feeling loved and in control, and the neediness and anger dissolve.”
“This is not the same as “quality time” – just hanging out with your child. When you love bomb, you create a special emotional zone wholly different from normal life, with new rules.”
Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health, London praised: “This book has the potential to transform the fabric of family life.”