15 Fun Ways to Play and Connect with your Child
Because connection with your child is so essential. I am sharing some fun and playful ways to engaged with your child.
1. Chase Games – These can be done outdoors in just a few minutes, or even inside! We have a safe zone in our house for chasing games! They can involve your child chasing you, you chasing your child, playing tag where one person is “it”, etc. There can be hugs at the end when a person is caught – or a tickle!
2. Hide and Seek – Kids as young as 2 can begin to play this favorite. Start off by hiding yourself and having them try to find you. Or hide an item and look for it together. Give a hug when the person is found – or chase back to a certain spot!
3. The Mommy/Daddy Trap Game – The mommy/daddy trap is a snug hug that is given to your child, while sitting on a couch or bed. The parent wraps his or her arms and legs around their child, hugging, but also “trapping” them in the hug. When the parent says a “magic” word the child then tries escape from the hug. This is done in a playful and silly manner. My son absolutely loves this game and we end up playing it for over 20 minutes at a time!
4. Tickles – Some kids like tickles and some don’t and it’s important to always respect your child’s wishes for their own body. Tickles can be a game in themselves, or a reward while playing hide and seek or a chase game. Kids also usually love to tickle adults – even if they don’t like it themselves!
5. This Little Piggy – I began playing this game with my son when he was an infant and I use it on all the foster children who enter my home. The traditional form of “This Little Piggy,” but I change the locations of where the little piggy goes….for example, “this little piggy went to the park, this little piggy went to Starbucks, this little piggy went to the swimming pool, this little piggy went to Toys R Us, and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.” I am amazed at how many time children will ask for “more, more” when playing this!! Always a favorite at our house – even with a 9 year old!
6. Dancingto Music – When my son was three he loved to dance and march in place. He would do this for hours. It never ceased to generate smiles and laughter! Create your own special dance – or play some fun music and get up, out of your chair, and dance with your kids. You will be amazed at how fun this can be!
7. Floor Play - Sometimes doing a simple activity like a jigsaw puzzle, or a stacking game together on the floor can be all a child needs to connect. Open-ended toys like blocks, cars and trucks, and dolls provide many ways for your child to direct the play and you to follow their lead – something kids love!
8. Exploration Walks Outside – There’s something about being outside together, in a natural area, that is good for the soul! Try exploring a new park, a local pond, or even just follow a trail that you haven’t been down before. My favorite spot in our town is the “greenbelt” where we can hop on at any location, leading to a new set of discoveries. Your child will pick up on your sense of adventure and exploration and you’ll get some fresh air and sunshine!
9. Imaginative Play – One of the toddler and preschooler’s favorite forms of play. Join in his/her play by being a willing participant (be a firefighter too!), a helping character (become the mechanic when the train breaks), or a subordinate (be the patient when she’s the doctor.) Remember to follow your child’s lead, ask questions like “Where should we go next? What should we do next?” and get on his/her level when playing.
10. Slippery Arm – Using lots of lotions, gently hold onto your child’s arm and have them try to pull their arm away from you. Because of the lotion, the should be able to get away easily. If it is difficult to get away, use more lotion! This is a playful and giggle worthy game. Great for nurturing a child because of the touch that is occurring. Trade places and let your child grab your arm too!
11. Build a Fort– This is one of my son’s very favorite activities and ways to connect! I have pictures of building forts when he was 2 and 3 years old, and he continues at age 9 to love inventing new construction in our home. It’s a great time to wrap each other up in blankets and have a pillow fight while being creative!
12. Pillow Play – When your kids are old enough to enjoy it, have a good old-fashioned pillow fight! Perfect physical play with guaranteed giggles!
13. Creating - Make art together or build something together. Need some inspiration check out Pinterest for new ideas?
14. Mirroring Games – These are guaranteed a laugh, as long as your child doesn’t feel he/she is being mocked. Spontaneously start copying what your child is doing! Make funny faces and try to imitate each other. Follow the leader. Keep in mind, once you begin this game your child may continue far beyond when you end the game!!
15. Nightly Snuggle and Chat – A really nice way to end the day, I do this with my son every night. After reading our bedtime story, we snuggle for a bit while talking about what happened that day. It’s great for helping your child feel listened to and in turn to develop listening skills, but most of all it’s really nice bonding time.