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Seven Ways To Creatively Connect With Your Child


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Seven Ways To Creatively Connect With Your Child

1. Art. Paints, crayons, markers, pencils, macaroni, glitter and glue are all windows into your child’s world. All you need is blank white paper and simple art supplies to connect with your child in a meaningful, memory-making way. Lay down your distractions and delight in your child as you watch her create something all on her own. You may try saying, “I like how you are enjoying your art making.” Let them be in charge of this moment. They lead, you follow. If they ask you to help, draw or paint with your non-dominant hand to get in touch with that child part of yourself. Simply observe what they are doing, “You chose the blue crayon” or “You are making a sunshine”. If the child needs direction, a house, a tree or a family pictures are a good start.
2. Music. The days of family music-making seem like days gone by, but you can revive this simple experience by the use of easy instruments like the strumstick, or the melody harp. The strumstick is a 3-stringed musical instrument designed to be easy to play and really fun for beginners. A melody harp is a plucked psaltery instrument that belongs to the folk and lap categories of harps. It is a simple, inexpensive version of a harp and very easy to learn. Singing around the house has been replaced with perfectly recorded and edited commercial music. The truth is, for your child’s brain development, and for the power of connection and memory making, children would rather hear their own mother or father singing than Celine Dion or Michael Buble’. Try it! You might like it!
3. Play dough. There is an inherent therapeutic quality to the texture of play dough. And no matter if you are 2 or 92, finding an imperfect creation with the soft and sticky mess is just what the doctor ordered. It gives us as adults the opportunity to find the present moment, and every child is in the present moment anyways. That is where we find them, find their eyes, find where they delight, and find the child within us. Give yourself permission to find five minutes to sit down, lay down your phone or computer, and connect with your child in the imperfect world of play dough.
4. Sand Tray. Making a small indoor sand tray with a large storage bin or plastic container can be a fun, connecting experience for you and your child. Moon sand is a hybrid of play sand and modeling clay that does not harden permanently, and can be purchased in toy stores or made at home. Moon Sand can be also be used as a sensory integration activity with children with special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy or visual differences. Compile a small collection miniature toys from your home next to the sand box. You can also use sticks or rocks from your yard. Ask your children to create a world in the sand. When they are done, ask them to tell you about their world, and simply reflect their experience without judgment. To work through strong emotions, have your child play with Moon Sand whenever he becomes restless or agitated, bored or distracted. Talk about feelings (sad, mad, happy, embarrassed) as you work with the Moon Sand, and give your child a chance to feel understood, which may calm him down and give him the opportunity to take responsibility for his own emotions. Talk about how relaxing it is to squeeze and push the sand around. Praise your child for getting the Moon Sand independently when he wants to calm himself.   To make a homemade version of Moon Sand, you can mix one bag of play sand with one box of cornstarch, making sure there are no lumps. Adding a little water at a time will turn the mixture into a workable dough that holds a shape when squeezed.
5. Age-Appropriate Puzzles. Puzzles are quiet way to wind down from a long day rather than watching television. We enjoy playing classical music in the background at our home. Fun for any age, let the child take charge and ask how you can help. Delight in your child as she organizes or works to put the pieces together. While the puzzle is being pieced together, you might say, “I wonder what your favorite puzzle piece is” or other questions that encourage dialogue.
6. Hand Puppets. A great way to tell a story, child to parent and parent to child, is through puppets.  Even teenagers and parents can enjoy working together as a family to create a puppet story. Make the puppets as simple as a plain sock with googly eyes, or a paper bag with crayons and glued construction paper. Your crafts don’t have to look like Pinterest to reach the heart of your child. Take turns in the creation of the storyline, or start a sentence and let your child finish it, “I love it when…” or “Once upon a time…” and see where the story takes you.
7. Creative Play Pretend to paint a flower, sunshine or a rainbow on your child’s face, while pretending to go to the county fair in the comfort of your own living room. Ask them which color they would like, dip your finger in the palm of their hand and paint away. This is a kinesthetic connection that calms most children who need to unplug from computers, television and the business of their day and spend quality time with their loved one. Grab a scarf and a cotton ball. Each can hold the ends of the scarf and blow the cotton ball back and forth, making sure it doesn’t fall off. Make eye contact and laugh with each other. Blow bubbles, breaking them with a finger, an elbow, a toe. Or grab some chalk for a hopscotch. All of these activities build connection, help you and your child feel a part of each other’s lives and world, and make memories you and your child are not likely to forget.

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