30 Ways to Connect With Young Children in 5 Minutes or Less

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  1. Watch a theme song, music video, sports song, or short youtube video together on your phone or computer.
  2. Fix your child a fancy drink – something they wouldn’t normally have with a curly straw or an umbrella. Sit outside on your stoop and sip it together.
  3. Give your child a dog-ride (child riding on your back as you walk around on all fours), a foot ride, piggy back ride, or head ride.
  4. Do your child’s hair in a special way (braids, pigtails, etc.).
  5. Let your child help you get ready for work, choose your jewelry, choose your outfit, choose your shoes, put clips in your hair, etc.
  6. Help your child move the furniture around in their room the way they want it to be.
  7. Let your child help you fix something around the house, change light bulbs, or change out batteries in toys.
  8. Ask your child to teach you something they know (like how to work their remote control car).
  9. Give your child a spray bottle filled with water and wash the kitchen tables, your car, or an outdoor fence together.
  10. Hug or pat your child on the back.
  11. Play a simple board game like Hungry Hippo, Kerplunk, or Candy Land.
  12. Read a story together.
  13. Play horsey boy, patty cake, this little piggy, or do a finger play like round and round the garden or where is thumbkin .
  14. Make popcorn together with an air-popper machine.
  15. Paint a picture, color, or do a puzzle together.  <!–nextpage–>
  16. Ask your child a fun question like, “If you could be any superhero, who would you pick?”
  17. Go for a walk or bike ride or big wheel ride or scooter ride around the block together.
  18. Show your child the stuff in your wallet, ask if they have ideas of anything else you could put in there.
  19. Blow bubbles or write with sidewalk chalk together.
  20. Water the grass or the flowers together.
  21. Ask your child a song they would like to hear and play it for them on your phone.
  22. Dance around to music with child for a whole song or two.
  23. Read part of a children’s magazine or point out pictures in one of your magazines or newspapers.
  24. Write a thank you card to someone together. Add stickers, drawings, or positive words about the person you’re writing to.
  25. Play catch or kick a ball around together.
  26. Play side by side in the sandbox. Scoop and dig playfully without any agenda.
  27. Make things out of play dough together. Be silly.
  28. Play dollhouse side by side. Make up stories about what the people are doing.
  29. Play cars together. Zoom them, make ramps for them, push them through “tunnels” like paper towel rolls or old PVC pipes.
  30. Tell your child a short story about when he or she was a baby. e.g. “We used to take you to the shoe store when you were a baby and they always gave you a big red balloon. You crawled everywhere with that balloon tied around your wrist!”

by Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD

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