100 Ways to Nurture and Connect With Your Child

Photo courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our children can thrive most when they are parented with a balance of nurture and structure. Yet parents often struggle to find practical ways to provide nurture and connect with their children. However, with intentionality and a small dose of creativity, parents soon discover that there are countless ways to offer nurture and foster connection with their children. Here are just a few ways that you can nurture and connect with children of all ages – infants to teens.

  1. Hold/carry/wear your baby/infant 
  2. Infant massage
  3. Hugs kisses
  4. Sing songs with hand/body motions (e.g., The Itsy Bitsy Spider)
  5. Play with Play-doh
  6. Color, finger paint, crafts
  7. Bedtime routine including snuggles, back scratches, story time, etc.
  8. Prepare family meal, giving child age-appropriate responsibilities
  9. Bubble baths while you read or talk with your child (hot tub time for older kids)
  10. Play together at the park (e.g., swinging, hide-­and-­seek, slides, monkey bars, etc.)
  11. Whiffle ball or kick ball game 
  12. Play with stuffed or pretend animals 
  13. Tickle “fights” and games 
  14. Read book together
  15. Backyard games (e.g., monkey in the middle, tag, hide-­and-­seek, sharks and minnows)
  16. Four square in the driveway
  17. Discover helpful “sensory” activities and do them together 
  18. Write letters to each other and then read/discuss them
  19. Play Legos, dolls, plastic animals, or just about anything else your child is interested in
  20. Let your child tell story about his/her day and give them your undivided attention
  21. Write a play or musical piece together and perform it
  22. Climb trees
  23. Pray together
  24. Hold hands
  25. Snuggle on the couch
  26. Back scratches (or arms, hands, legs, feet, face, or head) or back rubs
  27. Rock or hold your child in your lap (even if you think they are too old for this)
  28. Sing in the car together
  29. Make silly faces
  30. Put a Band-­Aid on a “boo boo” (real or imagined)
  31. Hand feed your child gummy/fruit snacks (even if you think they are too old for this)
  32. Play in the dirt or sand
  33. Run through the water sprinklers or water hose “fights”
  34. Sit close on the couch and watch your child’s favorite TV show
  35. Give your child a “pillow sandwich”
  36. Talk with your child while he/she bounces on an exercise ball
  37. Rub each other’s hands with lotion
  38. Puppet play
  39. Playing with the dog/pet
  40. Getting your child a snack or some juice
  41. Play dress-­‐up, fix each other’s hair, paint each other’s nails
  42. Blow, catch, and pop bubbles
  43. Bake cookies
  44. Tell jokes and laugh together (e.g., try to make each other laugh)
  45. Take your child his favorite lunch at school and eat with him
  46. Take your child to work with you
  47. Explore in the backyard for bugs or flowers
  48. Go to the pond and feed the ducks or throw rocks
  49. Tell your child “made up” stories
  50. Surprise your child with unsolicited, spontaneous praise
  51. Take your child on a trip by herself
  52. Look through family photo albums
  53. Write notes and put it in your child’s lunch or next to his bed
  54. Create a secret code that says “I love you” and use it at unsuspecting times
  55. Go on a treasure hunt
  56. Play school (with kids being the teacher and parents being the students)
  57. Visit a photo booth and take silly photos together
  58. Send your child a card in the mail (or email)
  59. Take your child’s chores for a day/week and do them for him
  60. Surprise your child with something they enjoy
  61. Go on a nature walk
  62. Hand stacking
  63. Give you child a “high five” or “knuckles” and praise her
  64. Give your child soft, warm eye contact as often as possible
  65. Making a mess together (intentionally) and then cleaning it up together
  66. Jump with your child on the trampoline (or indoor mini-­trampoline)
  67. Play guessing games in the car
  68. Smile at your child just because
  69. Stop once a day and look at your child in the eyes and tell them you love to see their eyes
  70. Take an afternoon or evening walk*
  71. Have a weekly parent/teen ice cream, snow cone, or Starbucks date*
  72. Cook your teen’s favorite meal*
  73. Write things you love about your child and read them to him/her*
  74. Play charades*
  75. Plant flowers or do yard work*
  76. Build or fix something (e.g., a fence, an old car, etc.)*
  77. Play a game of cards, video game, or board game*
  78. Go bowling, go-­‐kart racing, or bungee jumping*
  79. Family night at the arcade*
  80. Shoot basketball or throw football*
  81. Go for a bike/scooter ride, swim, or other exercise*
  82. Have a parent/teen get-­‐away at a nice hotel with a spa or fun activities*
  83. Get pedicures/manicures*
  84. Have Nerf gun or marshmallow “wars”*
  85. Volunteer in an animal shelter or at a local charity donation center*
  86. Take the dog for a walk*
  87. Go to a concert*
  88. Research something*
  89. Make arts, crafts, or jewelry*
  90. Decorate the house for an upcoming holiday*
  91. A day at Six Flags or an amusement park to meet your teen’s “need for speed”*
  92. Evening high/low talk (each person shares the high point and the low point of the day)*
  93. Go shopping*
  94. Go to a movie (of your teen’s choosing)*
  95. Play Dance Party or other games on the Wii*
  96. Sing karaoke*
  97. Text your child things that you love about him/her*
  98. Play a game of Mexican Train dominoes*
  99. Go to a sporting event*
  100. Go for a drive and spend time talking*

Important Note: All activities are intended to be done together between parent and child/teen, and should take into consideration your child’s history, development, and needs. Each activity should be modified as necessary in order to ensure that your child both enjoys and benefits from the interaction.

* Indicates activities that are especially relevant for tweens and teens    

List provided by Empowered to Connect and posted with permission.

What are some of your favorite ways to connect?

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