It’s important to connect on a regular basis with your child.
Even on a very busy day, you can find easy ways to bond.
Pick your favorite activities and find time to do them together.
Sometimes it’s not exactly easy to relish the joys of parenting—especially when your child learns and thinks differently. And day-to-day stresses can make it hard to find time to have fun together as a family. But carving out space for that much needed bonding time can have a big pay-off.
Try these free and easy ideas for relaxing and bonding with your child.
Take time out every day to focus on your child. The focus here should be on their non-academic skills, accomplishments or qualities. Choose the method of communication your child prefers. Some examples include: sending a text saying how much fun you have listening to your child practice playing an instrument or that you’re looking forward to seeing them for dinner later on. Talk on the couch about an upcoming school dance. Keep an ongoing email exchange running about the highs and lows of school. Or, write small affirmations (“You can do it!” “Have a wonderful day!”) on sticky notes and place them in your child’s lunch pack or sports bag.
It can be fun to share an unfolding story with your child. Let kids choose a print, digital or audiobook for the two of you to read together or that you can read aloud. The content and length of the book aren’t as important as the shared time. Discuss your favorite characters and scenes, and how you each might have changed elements of the story.
Break a sweat.
Regular exercise not only reduces stress, but can also improve mood and make hearts healthier. Set a regular time to walk, hike, swim, ride bikes or play sports. Or take a dance or exercise class together. Let your child choose the activity and keep it fun. Try to use this bonding time to help your child develop basic skills in team sports. This may help reduce anxiety in gym class.
Cook up a good time.
Making nutritious food helps fuel our brains and bodies. Getting kids involved in preparation might even make them excited to
sit down to dinner!
Depending on kids’ abilities, you can ask them to help select recipes, make lists, shop, prepare or serve a meal of their choosing. A younger child can start with one recipe that becomes a “specialty.” Look for ways to increase your child’s role over time. And be sure to compliment the chef!
Take turns planning monthly dates for just the two of you. Consider events like theater performances, lectures, movies, concerts and sporting events. Or try local attractions like farms, museums and zoos. Arranging and experiencing each other’s plans can feel great for both of you, especially if you focus on what the other might really enjoy. You may need to assist your child in looking for ideas, but the dates will still be special.
Volunteering isn’t just great for the community—it’s also good for the volunteer. Research proves that volunteering can reduce stress and snuff out risky behaviors like substance abuse and smoking.
You and your child can choose an organization and activity that speaks to both of your skills and interests. (Maybe stuffing envelopes for local advocacy groups suits you better than working in a soup kitchen.) Browse websites like
VolunteerMatch.org for ideas.
Hit the road.
Driving with your child can provide ample opportunity to relax, talk, laugh, sing and just be together. You might find the car an easier space than others for your child to open up.
Choose an exciting destination, but one close enough that you won’t feel worn out by the time you arrive. Plan for regular stops and pack appropriate distractions. Before hitting the road, get tips on how to
help your child pack for a trip.
Learn to meditate.
Meditation can be a powerful tool for both you and your child. Research shows it decreases stress, anxiety, pain and depression. It can also improve your mood and
boost self-esteem. Choose a method that works best for both of you. Examples include: Taking an in-person, parent-child class, reading or listening to an audio, digital or physical book about meditation. Or, watching an instructional DVD or video.
Set a regular time daily to meditate, either in the same or different rooms. This way, you won’t have to put up the “Do not disturb” signs!
Set a serene soundtrack.
Are you and your child together during a particularly stressful time of day? It might be the drive home from appointments or the hour between after-school activities and dinner. If so, turn on a soothing radio station or pick a favorite, chill song. Listening to classical or other calming music can reduce negative emotions.
Bust some moves.
When you sense you both need it, crank up some tunes and just dance. Your child may want to change the music (that’s ok!) or make fun of your moves (again, totally fine!). Hopefully your child will join your dance party. Grooving and shaking can release tension in your bodies and cause serious laugh attacks—and who couldn’t use that?
Whether you like to take a load off or go for a walk, you and your child can find an easy, free way to connect daily.
Choose activities you’ll both enjoy and keep it fun, but engaging.
Over time, relaxing, volunteering together, or just goofing off, will bring you and your child closer.