Gone Fishing: Great Bonding Activities for Children and Their Parents
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It is every person’s dream to have true familial bliss within their home. Doing so helps reduce tension, improves general outlook, and can also provide significant benefits for the children in the long run too. However in today’s hectic world where both parents are usually working, technology seems to be creating greater isolation between individuals. Furthermore, greater demands are placed on children at younger ages, making it a challenge to find time to bond.
The key to a successful relationship with your kids is not exactly a secret formula or complex recipe. It can be summed up thus: make sure you spend time with them. By this, we do not mean that you merely sit in the same room while the TV is on, or occasionally making light talk with each other while your noses are pressed to a screen. We mean actually taking the time and the effort to focus on and enjoy each other’s company.
Finding activities that both parent and child can enjoy is a bit of a challenge. Even at young ages, kids are their own people, and interests do not always coincide. Your idea of a fun day out may be the height of boredom for your seven-year-old daughter, for example. The temptation to fall into old stereotypes is also a major problem. There’s a sad tendency amongst adults to assume that, in order for something to be suitable for kids, it must be inane, silly, unchallenging and childish (in the negative use of the word).
So what things can you try?
Bonding Activities for Kids:
Take Them Out For Breakfast, or Lunch, or Dinner
This is a universal truth: nothing brings people together like a good meal, and kids are nearly always excited by the prospect of going out of the house for one. Especially if the destination is something they particularly like, like Chuck E. Cheese or McDonalds. As such, taking your children out for a meal can be a great way to spend some quality time with them.
If you’re going somewhere that has a play area or other activities, make sure you join your kids in any activities they decide to partake in or best results. Remember, the point of the trip is to spend time with each other. Don’t dump your kids in the nearest ball pit and proceed to have a coffee while chatting with friends on your phone.
Cook a Meal Together
Whether it is just letting your child help you make lunch, or even something as ambitious as a joint baking project, spending time together in the kitchen is a great alternative to a meal out. This helps you come to appreciate each other more as you both collaborate to create something together, which will help solidify bonds. Let your child have some creative freedom during the process, and allow them to do things on their own where appropriate. For example, let them stir the cake mix, or let them press the on/off switch for the blender. If you take too much control, you’ll sabotage the project by making the child think you do not really trust them.
Make the most of the time together to talk about things too. There’s no reason you cannot discuss school while waiting for your meal.
Working with the cooking theme, why not get some crafting materials out and get creative with your children? Sometimes working together towards a mutually realized project is an excellent way to get talking, as you have to communicate with each other to work out solutions to problems and gauge small ideas. Once again, be sure to let your kid have some authority in this. Your children do not get a chance to control much as it is, so letting them be in charge for once will make them happier.
Take a Mini Vacation Together
If you have a weekend free, or if you want to give Mom or Dad some space to breathe for a bit, consider going out and hitting the road with just your child. Let them pick somewhere they’d like to visit, then head on out and enjoy yourselves together. Naturally this is something that should be relatively small and compact, so think along the lines of camping trips or brief visits to nearby attractions or sites.
Small road trips are ideal for this sort of thing, as they allow plenty of time for talking and bonding. Use the opportunity to speak openly with your child for a bit, whether through natural conversation or use of small games.
Join One of Their Activities
The most sincere way you can show appreciation for someone as a person is to join them in something they enjoy. If your kids likes to paint, then get some paints out and make a picture together. If they like video games, have a two-player match. If they like playing with dolls, sit down and play along with them. It’s important to show your children that you enjoy who they are and what they do. Lowering your guard every once in a while to reveal the kid inside can also do wonders for helping your child appreciate you.
Depending on the activity, you can also invite them to join something you enjoy as well. Naturally, make sure it is something that your child can properly join in on. Inviting your five-year-old to come drinking with your work colleagues is probably not a very good idea, for several (hopefully obvious) reasons.
Do Something New Together
Now and then, do something unexpected. Take your child out to do or see something they never usually get to do in their day to day life. A great example is taking your urban child out to the country to see a working farm, or a land-locked child towards the coast to see the ocean. If you are usually fairly stay-at-home and insular, then be the one who takes them out to a friend’s party or a school recital. This is an extremely rewarding experience not just for the child, but also for you. Even if you’ve seen the thing in question several times before, seeing it alongside your child can help you consider it in ways you’ve never considered before.
Do Something Routine
As well as something new, sometimes doing something constantly over an extended period of time can also be great for building bonds between you and your children. Believe it or not, kids are very conservative individuals. They like routine, they like stability, they like things to be just so. If nothing else, it is comforting. As such, do something regularly with them each week, or even every day. For example, read them a chapter of a book before they go to bed each night or always take them out with you when you go for a weekly shop. Find some ritual, some unique activity that’s just between you and them, and stick to it.
It is important that you make every effort to keep to this, however. If you decide you want to change something (such as inviting the other parent into it), make sure you ask your child for their opinion first. They’ll regard it as being strictly between you two, and will appreciate being consulted before any changes or deviations are made. Some may even relish the chance for something new.
Celebrate With Them
If your child achieves something truly ground-breaking, such as acing a test at school or taking part in a sports match, then be sure to celebrate with them. Take them out for milkshakes, or take them out to buy a small treat. In particular, it is critical you support your child during these events as well. Make every effort to attend recitals and performances, and be sure to offer support when they need to hit the books. If you cannot for whatever reason, make sure you are there to be with them in the aftermath at the very least.
Your kids will notice the amount of attention you give to the things they deem important. If you want to build bonds, be sure you are there for them when they need you.
The writer, Christian Mills, is a proud parent who shares advice about raising children with friends online through his writing. If you’re worried about your kids getting injured, he recommends looking up urgent care centers in your neighborhood like Night Lite Pediatrics. If you wish to learn more about Christian you can visit on Google+.