How to Start a Family Nurture Group

nurture group

Nurture groups are intentional times for children and youth to playfully learn social/emotional skills.

1. Choose a time. For families, try 1 to 3 times a week as scheduling and reactivity allow. Make sure that everyone is well-fed and hydrated before coming together. Kids from hard places do best with defined boundaries, so set a start and end time for your group.

2. Set the rules. Try these simple ones–Stick together, No hurts (physical or emotional), Have fun!

3. Learn the skills of attachment. I can give care. I can receive care. I can get my needs met. I am alright with me. I am alright with “we.”

4. Plan some activities. See below for a list of suggested activities.

Suggested activities for nurture groups:

Trust fall. Have children stand up straight and fall backwards into the arms of an adult. These roles can be reversed if the adult starts from sitting.

“Ha” game. Create a human chain. One person lies down. The next person lays down perpendicularly to the first person with his head on the first person’s tummy. Repeat until everyone is included. The first person says, “Ha!” The second person says, “Ha! Ha!” and so forth. See if you can get through the entire chain without everyone busting out into laughter.

Human knot. This is a great activity for older kids since size is an issues. Everyone stands in a circle and extends their hands toward the center. Each persons grabs two different hands, creating a large knot. The goal is to unknot into a circle without anyone letting go.

Listen and obey games. Red Light/Green Light. Simon Says. Mother May I? Mr. Fox.

Cotton ball games. Blowing cotton balls around the table with straws encourages extended exhales which regulate neurotransmitters. Split into partners. One person closes their eyes and guesses where the other person is touching them with a cotton ball.

Snuggling up with books. Check out the books here.

Play with feelings cards

Role play. One of our favorites is reversing the parent child roles.

Massages with essential oils or lotion.

Feeding activities. Start with something fun (which is also totally a choking hazard) like trying to toss popcorn into each other’s mouths.

Board and Card GamesThis list was compiled by our families.

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Participation in each activity is optional, but keep the child in close proximity (Remember, Stick Together!).
  • Think about activities in terms of energizing or calming. Choose activities based on which way you want to move your family’s energy level.

Additional Resources

Family Nurture Groups

Pinterest Ideas

Optimus Education

TES Connect

The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder

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