Play is an opportunity to connect with your child, to disarm fear, and to replace previous negative interactions that he or she may have had. It enables you to build connection, trust, and for your child to experience feelings of safety. Below please find some suggestions for different activities you can do with your child.
- Mirror what your child does: This does not require any toys. It only needs you and your child. All you need to do is copy what your child does. For example, if he or she claps his or her hands together, then you do the same, at the same volume and speed. Ensure that you maintain eye contact, smile, and laugh with your child, all of which promote connection. This can also be done with jumping, making silly faces, or by playing with toys, such as rolling a ball back and forth to one another.
- Swinging: This can often be a calming activity for a child. When swinging your child, push from the front and work to maintain eye contact the entire time. Before you push your son or daughter faster or higher, you can say, “Let me see your beautiful smile” to get your child’s attention.
- Bubbles: Have your child look at you before you blow the bubbles. Count to three, then blow, and pop the bubbles. Take turns blowing the bubbles.
- Piggy-back rides: This helps to strengthen the relationship, as it involves fun, laughter and physical closeness. Children thrive on feeling the physical security of having their parents close to them.
- For older children or teenagers, you may need to find new ways of connecting. Activities can include getting a manicure or pedicure together, volunteering at an animal shelter, paintballing, shopping, playing sports, or biking. It is important to take an interest in his or her hobbies.