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Making time for other kids

10 Great Bonding Activities With Your Other Kids

By The Understood Team

19Found this helpful

If one of your kids has learning and attention issues, the other (or others) may get less of your time than you’d like. It’s important to give every child some undivided attention now and then.

19Found this helpful
Fathers and son taking an early evening walk holding hands
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Go for a nighttime walk.

Try taking a stargazing walk together. Heading outside in the dark, just before bedtime, can make an ordinary stroll feel special. If you have a toddler or preschooler, you can even let her go in her pajamas, weather permitting. If you don’t want to go for a walk at night, daytime outings make for great bonding too. If you have a younger child, play a game of I Spy. If your child is older, she may want to talk about anything from her favorite TV show to her college plans.

Father and daughter sitting in a restaurant together
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Have a breakfast date.

If one of your kids is an early riser, head out together for a weekend breakfast while the rest of the family sleeps in. It’s a great chance for the two of you to spend quality time together while your partner or another caregiver manages things on the home front. If you get to the restaurant early, you may avoid the morning rush and get served quickly, giving you time to talk.

Mother and daughter talking in the car on their way to errands
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Make routine car trips special.

Some of your best conversations with your other kid may take place when it’s just the two of you in the car, especially once she’s a tween or teen. So take her along on errands: Hit the library or post office together so you’ll have time to bond in the car. And consider sweetening the deal by making a pit stop for ice cream, hot chocolate or another treat she likes.

Father and daughter walking into a hotel with overnight luggage
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Take a mini-vacation.

Go on an overnight trip. This doesn’t have to a big or expensive journey. An inexpensive hotel in the next town over may be all you and your child need to relax and have some fun together. Depending on her interests, you may want to look for one with an indoor pool or a nearby movie theater. If your child is more outdoorsy, pack up the tent and hit a campsite together, just the two of you. Or try staying at a lodge in a nearby national park.

Father and son enjoying a competitive video game together
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Enter your child’s world.

If you and one of your kids have the house or apartment to yourself, pick an activity she loves, and do it together. That may mean you have to spend an hour playing video games. Let your child show you how it’s done, then you take a turn. Or if she likes to color or paint, work on creating something together.

Dad cooking lunch with his young son
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Cook together.

Cooking is a great way to spend one-on-one time with your child. Let her choose a recipe for a special meal, either for just the two of you or for the whole family. Maybe it’s a simple family favorite. Or maybe it’s a complicated baking project that she wants to try. Either way, do the shopping, prep work and cooking together, but let your child take the lead as much as she can. And use all this delicious time together to talk, make jokes and learn about each other.

Father carrying daughter on his shoulders at a sporting event
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Become a fan.

If your child enjoys sports, consider becoming fans of a local sports team. It can be fun to follow a college or minor league team together. The tickets aren’t expensive, and you and your child can keep track of how “your team” and favorite players are doing, even when you can’t make a game.

Young girl washing car with her grandfather
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Get wet.

Wash the car together. A hose, a bucket of water, and some suds can be a recipe for more than a clean car. With all its potential for splashing and getting drenched, washing the car is a great parent-child bonding activity. Or pick up some balloons at a convenience store and have a water-balloon toss, just the two of you. Start close, then work your way farther and farther apart.

Father giving his daughter a pat on the back after her baseball game
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Celebrate achievements.

You’re probably used to cheering on your child with learning and attention issues. But his siblings deserve fanfare, too. Attend your other child’s band concert and whistle for an encore. Make a special trip to see her artwork hanging in the school hallway. Let her know you’re as aware of her success as you are of her sibling’s—and that you’re equally proud.

Close up of mom kissing her daughter goodnight
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Check in every night.

On busy days, it may feel like your child with learning and attention issues gets most of your energy. Try setting aside 10 to 20 minutes each night to connect with your other child. Maybe you talk about the highs and lows of her day, or what she’s looking forward to tomorrow. Or maybe you read to one another. However you choose to spend this time, it says to her, “I’m here, and I care deeply for you.”

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About the Author

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team

The Understood team is composed of passionate writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

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Reviewed by Laura Tagliareni, Ph.D. Apr 20, 2014 Apr 20, 2014

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