Love Bank

Piggy Bank.jpg

Dr. John Gottman, marriage and parenting expert talks about a concept called an emotional bank account. I'm just going to say, love bank. 

It's the idea that at the center of any relationship there's a piggy bank. We make deposits into it through positive interactions that build connection and withdrawals during negative ones that strain connection. Dr. Gottman uses this metaphor with married couples. But I often think of it during the day with kids. 

As nannies we have to make withdrawals, they're a part of our responsibility with kids. We need to set limits like "no we can't read one more book it's time for nap", name hurtful choices like "calling someone a baby is unkind", enforce consequences like "you forgot your lunch box so you'll have to eat a school lunch." All of these things can take money out of love banks and strain our relationship with kids.

There are of course ways to maintain some connection during withdrawals. Strategies like approaching kids to correct a behavior instead of intervening from across the room. Staying kind while being firm. Letting kids save face by not overly asserting our power - letting the limit or consequence speak for itself. As well as ways to begin depositing back into the love bank right after a withdrawal like by closing difficult discussions with a hug and letting the kid off the hook completely. 

What protects our connection with kids is ensuring that there's lots of money in the love bank before making withdrawals. Luckily it's easy to make deposits. Giving kids our full attention, responding right away to their attempts to engage with us, being playful, noticing when they make great choices, snuggling, keeping calm, complimenting, following their lead. We can make deposits all day! 

I try to assess the kids' love banks periodically throughout the day to gauge how full they are. If one is getting a little low I make an extra effort to deposit some cash. That way, when it comes time to make a withdrawal it doesn't put undue stress on our relationship.