Posted in Family Fun Factor, Parent-Child Bonding, Positive Parenting, Therapy

Activities and Games That Promote Attachment ~ Family, Parent and Child Bonding

Attachment & Connection are VERY important and most of us are aware of the

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Different types of Attachment:

  1. Secure
  2. Anxious-preoccupied
  3. Dismissant-avoidant
  4. Fearful-avoidant

Take This 5 minute test to know What Your attachment Style is: http://www.web-research-design.net/cgi-bin/crq/crq.pl

If  there is an un-healthly attachment type, then its time to start PLAYING and work on it!


A List of Play & Activities that promote Attachment & Connection ~ FREE printable PDF handout: attachment_play

Pick One Activity Per Week to Play with Your Child! 


15 Games that Encourage

Attachment, Connection, and Bonding

The following list of games that encourage attachment for a variety of age levels. These activities have proven to be great suggestions for parents of children with RAD (reactive attachment disorder).


1. Play hide and seek. As an added bonus this also develops object permanence.

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2. Paint each other’s faces with paint, powder, make up, or just pretend. Face Painting is SO much Fun! Let them face paint you too!

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3. Donut Dare. Hold a donut on your finger through the hole and have your child see how many bites they can take before it falls off. If you want to make this a bit healthier you could change the donut to a pineapple ring.

Make this into a FAMILY Game – everyone takes a turn biting the donut trying to not let it fall!

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4. Put lotion on each other.

Woman pumping lotion into hands
Woman pumping lotion into hands

5. Play a memory game but with a more personal touch. First, have your child look you over very carefully. Then leave the room and return after you’ve changed something about yourself. See if s/he can figure out what is different. It could be something really obvious for younger kids, like taking off a sweater, but for older kids you could get more challenging, like buttoning one more button on the sweater.

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6. Guess the Goodies! Put several small treats in a bag or cup. Then have your child closes his/her eyes. Finally, you pop a treat in your child’s mouth and have him/her try to guess what it is.

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7. Hold your child in your arms and dance. This is a very synchronous activity.

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8. Play a tunnel activity kind of like London Bridge. Both parents start by kneeling on the floor to form a tunnel. Then have your child crawl through the tunnel as fast as s/he can before it collapses. During the first few times let him/her get completely through, then have it gently collapse onto your child.

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9. Give a pillow ride! Have your child sit on a big floor pillow as you drag him/her around the room. Make sure to only move when given eye contact.

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10. Play catch! Roll a ball back and forth to teach reciprocity. Throwing or batting a balloon back and forth may be easier than throwing a ball for little ones.

11. Engage in an M&M hockey rivalry. Use bendy straws and blow candy across table to the other person’s goal. When one of you scores a goal, the opponent feeds that person candy. Attachment, Connection & Bonding!! 

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How To Make DIY Hockey or Soccer Pom Pom (or candy) Game:

  • On a large piece of paper or card stock, draw a line down the center to represent the mid-field point on your soccer field.
  • Next, draw a semi circle at each end of your soccer field, to represent the goal areas.
  • Take a small cardboard box (a shoebox is ideal) and cut it in half. Place one half of the box at each end of the soccer/hockey field as goal nets.
  • Place a pom pom (your soccer ball!) in the center of the field.
  • Each player takes a straw and blows through it to move the pom pom into their goal area.

12. Marshmallow fight! Each person uses a pillow as a shield. Make a shield with cardboard! (use masking tape to build a handle). You Could incorporate a Coat of Armor Activity – List Family Values or Individual Qualities. Sit on the floor and throw marshmallows at each other. This gets wild and crazy and is a lot of fun. You can do the same thing with crumpled paper if you don’t have marshmallows handy. (see below for more ideas)

So much Fun for Kids! Use mini marshmallows – large marshmallows – colorful marshmallows…

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Click Here for a link to FREE Coat or Armor Blank Template to print and FREE Template for a Shield along with cut-out decorations!

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13. Swim together.

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14. Create a pillow jumping maze. Set up pillow islands in a pattern across the floor. Have your child start at one end while you are at the other. S/he can only start to cross the room when you say “go” (you could say “mo” or “lo” to make things more challenging and teach him/her to be more attentive).  After given the green light, your child must jump across the islands and into your arms. Click Here  for my post with more ideas on creating an obstacle course. 

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15. Adapt Lady and the Tramp with lifesavers on a licorice string. Loop a piece of shoestring licorice through a few gummy lifesavers.  Put one end of licorice in your mouth and the other in your child’s mouth (it helps to tie a knot so that it stays in your mouths better). Then, by standing up and maneuvering without hands, feed the lifesavers to each other.

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Twizzler Game + Life Savers = Nose-to-nose rub kisses!

Example: “For each Life Saver share with me the best part of your day, the toughest part, one kind thing you did for something & one kind thing someone did for you today.” 

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Put Life saver gummies on the Twizzler and feed each other the life savers. Adapt this to include anything you would like.


21+ More Activities that Promote Parent-Child Attachment:

Attachment Play replicates healthy attachment interactions between a parent and a child.

It utilizes four modes of interaction:

  1. Activities are structured
  2. Engaging
  3. Nurturing
  4. Challenging

This type of play focuses on increasing intimacy between a child and parent through direct body and eye contact, rocking, singing, nurturing, and positive affirmations that emphasize a child’s health, strength and potential. Listed below are exercises designed to enhance attachment with your child. Many of these activities can be adapted for younger or older children.

1. One to Three Years:

Play pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, this little piggy, massage lotion on your child, feed each other finger snacks, teach the child something they don’t know, build a structure with blocks and encourage the child to copy it.

2. Three Years and Older:

Play with stuffed animals, play hide and seek, comb each other’s hair, put hats on each other, read a book together, feed each other finger foods.

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3. Adolescent:

Look into each other’s hands and tell your fortunes, put lotion on each other, describe a day in your child’s life 10 years from now, thumb wrestle, feed each other finger snacks, have a marshmallow food fight.

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You Tube Video of Hand Reading: 

Marshmallow Shooter

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All you need to make shooters like the ones above is a couple toilet paper rolls and two balloons.  Simply stretch a balloon over one end of each cardboard roll.  Add a few marshmallows (mini marshmallows work best) and fire away!

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You Will need some balloons (12”), plastic cups (9oz)** Use Yogurt Cup or anything of the like! , mini marshmallows and/or pom poms. Cut the bottom part off of your plastic cup (⅔).  Tie a knot at the end of your balloon and cut off about 1/2″ from the other end. ** Double up the cups if you are using these thing plastic cups and stretch the balloon over the top rim of the cup (if you stretch it over the bottom it will bend).

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Some Decorative Tape to secure the balloon in place a little better – good idea.

Host a contest to see who can pop marshmallows the farthest or get the most into a bowl that’s a few feet away.

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The ULTIMATE Marshmallow Fight! “Families that play together stay together.” And that is what this activity promotes – attachment & connection. Fun Families Strong Relationships! What a Great Idea – Hang on the child’s door their supply of Marshmallos – Also great Winter Idea or Gift “Snow Fight!”

Thumb wrestling face
Thumb wrestling face

Other Activities:

4. Mirroring: face the child, move your arms, face, or other body parts and ask the child to move in the same way. For a very active child you can use slow motion or vary the tempo. Take turns being the leader.

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5. Knock on the Door this is a simple baby activity. “Knock on the door” (tap on the child’s forehead) “Peep in” (peek at the child’s eyes) “Lift up the latch” ( gently push the child’s nose up) “Walk in” (pretend to walk fingers into a child’s open mouth or pop a piece of food in).

Download & Print this free handout “Tickles & Lovies: For Quiet Times & Car Rides or to bring smiles & laughter”: wigglestickles


6. Cotton Ball Hockey lie on the floor on your stomachs (or sit with a pillow between you). Blow cotton balls back and forth, trying to get the cotton ball past your partner’s defense. You may increase the complexity by saying how many blows can be used to get the ball across the pillow, or by trying to blow at the same time to keep the ball in the middle. Use Straws to blow the cotton balls “Straw Hockey Sticks.”

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7. Drawing Around Hands, Feet, or Bodies trace the child’s hand or foot on a piece of paper. Full body drawings require that the child remain still (this can be challenging). The parent can make verbal comments regarding progress while drawing—e.g., “I’m coming to your knee…”  Also Do this activity outside with chalk! 

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8. Measuring Measure the child’s height, length of arms, legs, feet, hands, etc. Keep a record for later comparisons. Measure a child’s smile, length of ears & nose, etc. You can use fruit tape, or roll-up snack for measuring and make a game out of feeding it to your child.

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9. Stack of Hands Put your hand palm down in front of the child and guide your child to put his or her hand on top. Alternate hands to make a stack. Take turns moving the bottom hand to the top. Putting lotion on hands before this activity can make it slippery and nurturing at the same time.

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10. Special Handshake Make up a special handshake together, taking turns adding new gestures. For example, you can do a five high, clasp hands, tickle palms, etc.

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11, Decorate the Child Make rings, necklaces, bracelets with play-doh, crazy foam, etc.

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12. Manicure Soak the child’s feet or hands in warm water. Using lotion, massage his/her feet or hands. Paint toes or fingernails the color your child wants.

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13. Twinkle Song Adapt the words of “Twinkle, Twinkle , Little Star, “ to the characteristics of your child: “What a special boy you are/Dark brown hair, and soft, soft cheeks/Bright brown eyes from which you peek/ Twinkle, twinkle little star/What a special boy you are.”

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14. Special Kisses

  • Butterfly kiss: parent places cheek against the child’s cheek and flutters eyelashes so the child feels the brush of her eyelashes;
  • Fish kiss: have parent and child pucker their lips and kiss each other;
  • Eskimo kiss: parent and child rub noses together, etc.

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15. On Your Face On your face you have a nose/ And way down here you have 10 toes/2 eyes that blink/And a head to think/ You have a chin and very near/ You have 2 ears to help you hear/(Arms go high and arms go low)/ Arms go low and arms go high/A great big hug to say hello/(A great big hug to say goodbye). On the first verse, touch your child’s nose; touch your child’s arms and touch his toes; touch the child’s temples next to his eyes; cradle the sides of his head; touch his chin; touch both ear lobes and whisper something in their ear like “I love you”; grasp the child’s wrists and hold the arms high over his head and bring them down or visa-versa; extend your arms to give the child a hug.

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16. There was a Little Mouse There was a little mouse/and she had a little house/and she lived /up here. Holding the child’s palm, “walk” your fingers in his or her palm like a little mouse; release the child’s palm and encircle the child’s hand with both of your hands; walk your two fingers up the child’s forearm. With your tone of voice and facial expressions, build the child’s anticipation of the next move; Touch the child in a spot that would be a surprise—ear lobe, chin, nose, etc.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Download & Print this free handout “Tickles & Lovies: For Quiet Times & Car Rides or to bring smiles & laughter”: wigglestickles


17. Balloon or Bubble Tennis Keep balloon or bubble in air by using specific body parts.

Close up of a blue balloon --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Close up of a blue balloon — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

18. Cotton Ball or Feather Guess: Have child close eyes and tell where you have touched him/her with a cotton ball or feather.

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19. Caring for Hurts Check the child for bruises, hurts or “boo-boos.” Put lotion on or around it, kiss it or touch with a cotton ball.

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20. Balancing Activities Have the child balance pillows, books or hats on head or on their feet when lying on their back on the floor with feet in the air.

134x175xgross-motor-balance-walk-bend.jpg.pagespeed.ic.c5BsjD3Yj9He carefully bends over to touch a plastic bottle while keeping the beanbag on his head. And walking along the rope line. 


21. Straight Face Challenge Child has to keep a straight face while you try to make him/her laugh

Tell Me More is spreading the laughter this summer.
Tell Me More is spreading the laughter this summer.

5 Attachment Based Activities

Children who are displaying problematic behaviors such as having difficulty managing their emotions, having aggressive behaviors, or who often act whiny or needy may benefit from attachment-based activities. This is particularly true if the child has experienced challenges during the first few years of life. Attachment-based activities can also be helpful for children who may have experienced some trauma or even less severe stressful situations. These activities are even useful for well-behaving, happy children.

Attachment-based activities are essential and beneficial for all children (and adults, as well)

 If you are a parent and your relationship with your child has been strained for any reason, if you and your child don’t seem to be getting along very well, or if you simply want to strengthen the relationship between you and your child, attachment-based activities can help to do that.

Attachment-based activities are activities that enhance the attachment between the child and parent. Attachment is the bond that children develop with their primary caregivers in the first few years of life. This attachment is extremely influential on how the child relates to others, the nature of their relationships, and how they view themselves and, other people, and the world for the rest of their life. This is not to say that what happens in the first few years of life is totally deterministic of the child’s outcome. There is the possibility that later experiences and the child’s internal processes and personality can alter the effects that early attachment may have (in a positive or negative way).

5 Attachment-Based Activities

1. Playful Copycat (or Mirroring the Child)

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This activity does not necessarily require any physical items or toys. All it takes is having the parent and child both present and ready to interact with each other. The basic idea for this activity is to have the parent playfully copy what the child is doing, such as by having the child begin by clapping his hands together and having the parent clap their hands in the same volume and speed as the child. When the child changes his style of clapping (such as louder or softer), the parent should imitate the child. Eye contact, smiles, and laughs are also helpful to promote a healthy relationship and repair or enhance attachment. Mirroring can also be done with other activities, such as jumping, playing with toys, or facial expressions.

2. Bean Bag Game 

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Have the child place a bean bag or another soft toy that is fairly easy to balance on top of his head. Have the parent sit in front of the child and place her hands in front of her. The child is then directed to tip his head forward to try to get the bean bag in the parent’s hands. The child should tip his head when the parent blinks her eyes. (This will promote eye contact.) Have the parent use as much eye contact as possible. Again, it is important for the parent and child to have fun with this activity. Laughter has been found to be healing and can help to repair and enhance a relationship. (activity adapted from Walton)

3. Piggy-Back Rides

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Piggy-back rides can help to strengthen parent-child relationships and repair or enhance attachment because they involve fun and physical closeness. When children are babies, they need plenty of physical contact with their parents. Babies thrive not only from being fed and kept physically safe, but also from feeling the comfort and security of having their parent close to them.

4. Lotion Massage

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Using lotion to massage a child’s hands or feet can enhance attachment and strengthen a parent-child relationship. The massage can relax a person’s physical body by reducing tension and bringing the brain into a less defensive state.

5. Brushing Hair

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Sometimes girls can be fussy about getting their hair brushed, especially if they have experienced pain from well-meaning parents brushing their hair too hard. However, allowing a daughter to gently brush her mother’s hair and having a mother gently brush her daughter’s hair can be an activity that can promote connection. This can be a calming activity that includes a sense of nurturing which connects to a person’s internal experience of attachment and bonding.


Links that are related on my blog:

  • Click Here to see 100 ways to show LOVE to your child (includes free printable list)
  • Click Here for a List of 40 Ways to Keep Children Occupied (especially toddlers) with activities that promote learning and attachment. (sewing basket for kids, pool noodles, pipe cleaners, sensory bins, water tables, etc)
  • Click Here for Activities that Promote Learning & Attachment – link to website with activities listed by age (up to age 5 years but you can adapt for older kids)
  • Click Here for 4 Fun Games that Promote Self-Regulation and practice listening & following directions skills
  • Click Here for Relaxing Road Trip Activities for Kids (most can be fun to play inside at home too! like play dough mats, coloring sheets etc)
  • Click Here for 20 Activities and Games to press the “reset” button when kids are getting silly or tough! (whisper game, kitchen stations, color their name, move slowly, read a book, take a bath etc.)
  • Click Here for 8 Communication Games Help kids practice listening & following direction skills (Red Light Green Light, Mad Libs, Simon Says, Follow the Leader, Obstacle Course etc.)
  • Click Here for 4 Family Fun Activities using Balloons!
  • Click Here for 6 Self-Regulation Activities & Games for Kids (free printable explaining the importance of self-regulation)
  • Click Here for 24 Gross Motor Activities that promote Parent-Child Connection (hide and seek, Mother May I?, The Touch Game, Pop Goes the Weasel, Ring Around the Rosie, Hula Hoop, Egg Races, charades – free printable cards! etc.)
  • Click Here for 31 SideWalk Chalk Activities for Kids
  • Click Here for Parenting Tips on how to Improve & Grow Your Attachment & Connection with Your Child
  • Click here for my post on Fun Basket Ball Games with details  (PIG, HORES, 21 etc)
  •  Click Here for my post with detailed instructions on the game Four Square (4 Square).
  • Click Here for FREE printable on 25 Alternatives to “Good job” for parents to say to their kids!

Author:

Mother, Pediatric Nurse and a Trail Blazer for Positive Change.

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