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Inside: If you ever wondered how to connect with kids through play even if you are not a very playful mom, here are 5 ideas that you can easily try and that will help you build a strong relationship with your child.
There are two types of parents.
Some parents are playful by nature. They can invent a game anytime and they have a lot of fun every time they play with their kids. This is exactly how my husband is. He comes up with new ideas every day and is my son’s favorite person to play with.
Other parents struggle with being playful. They want to play with their kids but they just don’t easily get into a playful mood. And they certainly don’t enjoy playtime as much as the parents in the first category. This is how I am.
In time I found tips that helped me become a more playful mom but I’m still not even close to my husband’s playfulness.
But I do know that playing with the kids is the most powerful way to connect with them so I do my best to find ideas that will help me build a close relationship with my son and make him feel loved.
There are so many ways to play with our children and they are coming up with new ideas every single day! But there are also some special games that can help us:
- reconnect with our kids when we feel disconnected
- show kids that we love them.
- get to the child’s heart and help them open up to us and share their feelings and worries.
In this post, I want to share with you 7 easy ideas that always worked great for us. They are very easy to put into practice and they can help you build a strong connection with your child even if you are not a very playful mom.
7 easy and playful ways to connect with kids
Here are some easy ideas that kids love and that will offer you the chance to connect with them and make them feel loved.
Playing games like wrestling, pillow fighting, jumping on the bed is very important for children!
They help them develop emotional regulation, self-control, risk-taking skills, and much more! These games also help them release stress and anxiety. And are an awesome way to connect with kids.
You can read more about the great benefits of roughhousing in this article: What Kids Secretly Want to Tell You About Roughhousing – Girls Included! (by The Military Wife and Mom).
2. Floor play
The best (and easiest) way to build a strong connection is to follow the child’s lead and become part of their play.
If your child is playing on the floor just sit next to them and watch them play. Let the child know that you pay attention to what they do. Ask them if you could join them. Pretty sure the answer will be “yes”!
Play doesn’t have to be complicated. We don’t need fancy Pinterest activities to make our kids happy. In many cases, the most joyful interactions with the kids happen when we just join them in their play and let them “teach” us new ways to play.
3. Silly games
Any game that makes the child laugh a lot helps them relieve worries and negative feelings.
One of our favorites are:
- playing loud music and singing along with funny voices
- taking turns at making silly faces and making each other laugh
- mirroring each other’s actions in a funny way.
4. The bedtime game
If bedtime is always a struggle, this game can help you reconnect and make things easier. Invite your child to go to bed and then say “good night” to each part of their body while touching the child gently (“Good night, hand! Good night, arm! Good night, shoulder!” and so on). This will help the child relax and go to sleep easier and will prevent many bedtime struggles.
5. The hugging chase
Physical contact is important for kids to feel safe and connected. This game is all about chasing your child and giving them many, many hugs until they manage to “escape” from your arms.
6. Pretend-play with stuffed animals
Sometimes we can see that our kids are worried or upset but we cannot get them to talk about their feelings.
One way to help them deal with their emotions is to have one stuffed animal to be the parent and one to be the child and to act out the situation that you want to discuss. (for example, starting preschool, sharing toys, having a fight with a friend)
Kids feel more comfortable when they talked about a situation from the outside.
You can start by saying “Let’s pretend that..” and naming the situation. (“Let’s pretend that you are in the park and I have taken the toy from your hand without asking.”)
Then follow the child’s lead and help them express their feelings without judging or correcting. Then you can find a playful way to guide the child to find a good solution to overcome the issue or the negative emotion. This game can help kids open up to us and will build trust because they will learn that they can discuss anything with us.
7. Role reversal game
This is the perfect game for helping kids regain their confidence, overcome fears, and share their feelings with you.
You can use this game to find out how your child sees the relationship with you. They can play the parent’s role and you can play the child’s role. Then you can choose different situations (like the morning routine, bedtime routine, or just regular interactions) and play each other’s roles.
You can make the game more fun by exaggerating the child’s reactions when you play their role. My son laughs a lot when I pretend to refuse to go to sleep and I complain about every step of the bedtime routine on a funny voice.
I like to play this game with my son and I’m often surprised by the way he perceives my behavior. This game helps me improve several aspects of our relationship and build a stronger connection with him. And it also brings us a lot of giggles!
If you want to discover more ideas for using play to nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, and encourage confidence, check out Lawrence Cohen’s book – “Playful Parenting”. It’s an amazing resource for parents and it offered me great solutions for handling parenting problems in a playful and positive way.
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