To really and truly connect with kids, it is important to play with them, engage them, and give them full and undivided attention. In many ways it’s a need and not just a luxury. It’s often said that if we don’t listen to the little things today, in their tween and teen years, they won’t let us in on the big or little things.
Although it can sometimes feel tiresome to spend time playing kids that have seemingly endless energy after a long day, the benefits outweigh any of the negative feelings. Creating a meaningful connection when your kids are 3-7 years old engages them in the years of play, curiosity, and inquisitive conversation.
The link between play and relationship building for young kids
Your child’s idea of fun play might not always be the same as yours. But when you take the time to engage with them by doing things that they like, you will start to see signs that they are feeling loved. Eye contact, smiles, laughter, and spontaneous hugs will let you know that your child is feeling connected with you.
Taking the time to play with your child really shows that you love them more than words can say. And when your kids are 3-7 years old, play is a love language and their primary form of connecting not just with you, but also with what’s around them! It’s giving them human connection but also an education. Our kids are natural scientists, explorers, and investigators. When we are there to narrate it for them, their mind has an opportunity to bloom.
How to make a meaningful connection when your kids are little
It means getting down on the floor and meeting them at their level. It means making eye contact. It means listening.
But it also means following their lead, letting them control and direct the pace of the play. Sometimes it’s ok to just relax and have fun while being fully in the moment with your child, answering questions and pretending right alongside them.
Engage in your child’s Imaginative Play ideas
Be a willing participant in your child’s imagination. Let them create a character or game, and then play along. Remember to follow their lead, ask questions like “Where should we go next? What should we do?” to engage their imagination even more. Even research shows that pretend play matters for brain development.
Create a special little connection game between just the two of you
It could be a little “bonk” on the head or a “bond” of the hand, maybe even A “buzz hug”. Kids have different learning styles and love languages so to create a connection that has a sound, a touch, and more all in one makes it special. So maybe trying out a warm hug gentle shaking and buzzing sound to see if your kids embrace this silly hug could be the start of a new connection.
Make a game of it by chasing your child around until you catch them, then pulling them into the fun hug. Or use it to deal with disappointments, feelings of anger, or times of stress to defuse though situations. Starting this tradition young means in the future our kids can seek out that warmth when they fail a test or don’t understand a problem.
Use dancing and rhythm to connect
Put on your child’s favorite music and play along with your own instruments, or compose songs together. Discuss beat, rhythm, and lyrics. Create your own special dance with your child or just put on some fun music and get up and dance. Music and dance are some of the greatest connectors across cultures. Plus, music is a great bridge to learning through math.
Tickle parties and rough-housing never disappoint!
Tickles can be a reward while playing hide and seek or a chase game and a way to break up time together. After school tickle parties or some simple rough-housing can help kids adjust to being back home and connect with the family again and can unravel those pent up emotions from the day. Remember to always take their lead, though. When they say enough, it’s enough.
Institute regular walks to build conversation.
There is something about spending time outside together that is good for the soul! Therefore, take your child to a new park, a local pond, or even just follow a trail that you haven’t been down before makes memories. But even establishing a regular routine of going on walks will create both a sense of adventure and a time to spend 1-on-1 with just you.
Do something creative together.
My personal favorite way to connect with kids is to create something together. Whether it’s cooking, art, or even building a block tower, joining together in a common goal helps bring your family together. Cooking a meal together can fill the heart while it fills your stomach. I have so many memories of baking and cooking with both of my parents.
Art is the classic creative project for adults and kids. You’ll definitely find something all of you want to do in this mega list of 40+ of the Best Art Projects for Kids!
Make creative projects easier with this fun Mini Maker Space Cart. Just roll it out of a closet anytime you want to create something together. Because who wants to waste valuable together time with setup and prep!
Connect with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
My absolute favorite way to connect with my kiddo is with creative STEAM projects. That’s why we do so many of them!! Be sure to check out these fun ways to get kids learning in having fun in the STEAM Kids series of books.