Connection is the foundation for human relationships. For some kids, particularly those with attachment issues, anxiety or sensory issues, connection is challenging and may even feel threatening to them. These connection activities can bridge the gap and help foster the parent-child bond.
Connection with their primary caregiver comes so naturally for most children, but for others, it can actually feel threatening or uncomfortable. Children who have experienced early childhood trauma (including prenatal trauma or stress), who have had multiple caregivers and homes (foster care, adoption, kinship care), who have sensory issues, or who suffer from anxiety can struggle with connection. The fix is not as simple as incorporating intentional connection activities in your home, but these activities can be a piece of the puzzle and are a step towards better attachment.
While some of these connection activities are straightforward, others require a bit of explanation. I have provided a video below where I explain some of them in more detail as well as explain ways that you can adapt the ideas on this list for kids who are resistant to connecting.
Ideas for Connection Activities:
- Read together
- Wear matching clothing
- Hang family pictures in child’s room
- Make child a small photo album to carry
- Give hand massage with lotion
- Trace shapes or letters on child’s back with your finger
- Let your child choose your outfit for the day
- Point out things you have in common
- Trade Hershey’s Kisses for eye contact and a kiss on the cheek
- Play a board game or card game
- Wear matching temporary tattoos
- Do your child’s hair
- Give or receive back scratches
- Have a special one-on-one time after other kids are in bed
- Give each other pedicures
- Bake or cook together
- Snuggle on the couch under a blanket with popcorn to watch a movie
- Give Smurf and butterfly kisses
- Hug (but ask permission first)
- Play clapping games
- Choose a special song for each child (see song suggestions below the video)
- Create art together and hang it prominently
- Pick your child up to play hooky from school
- Rock your child
- Make appointment days special
- Make up a secret handshake
- Choreograph a dance together
- Play “Mother, May I?” or “Simon Says” (Mommy Says)
- Use the You Are Special plate to mark and celebrate milestones*
You can get a printable version of this list to use as a reminder here.
*Our family uses the You Are Special plate for our kids (or us adults) for supper on their birthday and also to celebrate things such as them overcoming a fear or accomplishing a goal or reaching a milestone (getting their driver’s license, graduating, starting their first job).
The red plate has become such a part of our family culture that if one of the kids is setting the table for a birthday supper, they don’t need a reminder to set out that plate.
Connection Activities Video:
In the video, I touched briefly on how I choose a special song for each of our kids. They call them their “baby song” and they just melt whenever they hear their song. I chose their songs carefully based on who they are and what I felt they most needed to be reminded of or encouraged about. Their songs are personal, so I won’t be saying what they are, but you can find all of them (except for the one I invented for our youngest daughter) on the list included here interspersed with some other song ideas that I think would work well for this.
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