Close your eyes and imagine propelling yourself 20 years into the future. What does that future look like? Can you envision your family, kids and all, happily getting ready to gather for the holidays? Is everyone happy and talking about the good old days, or is everyone arguing and anxious to get away from one another?
If you imagined your family arguing and unable to stand one another, then it is obvious you need to make changes. That imagined future is not set in stone. It is never too late to start bonding exercises with your young children so they enjoy you, each other, and spending time together, even when they are adults.
Tried and True Bonding Exercises
When you envision a home and a family, you likely envision happy images. Perhaps you picture a family sitting around a table eating dinner, laughing, and talking. Maybe you picture families gathered together on the sofa watching a movie. Each of those things you envision are different bonding exercises you can try with your young children.
Exercises to try include:
- Enjoying Mealtimes Together: No matter what, always make it a point to eat a meal together. If possible, you should try to eat a meal together at least once a day. Even if you work late, perhaps you can make time to eat meals together as a family for breakfast. If your working hours conflict with weekday mealtimes, at least make sure you sit down as a family together every weekend. Families that eat meals with their children can open lines of communication and strengthen the bond between them.
- Reac with Your Children: Whether it is your reading a book to your child or allowing your child to read to you, reading with your child is one of the greatest bonding exercises. By reading together, you can explore a whole new world of imagination and creativity that the two of you can talk about and enjoy together.
- Create Memories Together: Creating memories with your children is a fantastic way to bond. Not only will your children appreciate it when they are older, it also brings each of you closer to one another. You can create memories by sticking to a family tradition. For instance, you can carve pumpkins together every Halloween or you can sing carols for the neighbors at Christmas time. Another way to create memories is to go on a family vacation.
- Include Children in Planning: No matter how young your children are, try to include them in at least some of your daily planning. For instance, you can ask your children for dinner suggestions. Perhaps you would like to get out and enjoy the day as a family. Ask your children what they would like to do. By including your children in planning, it creates an equal sense of importance for more successful bonding.
- Create a Scrapbook Together: Scrapbooking allows you to save your memories in a fun way. You and your children can look back over pictures together and talk about the memories you created. Children can assist you in building a scrapbook using glitter, glue sticks, stickers, and more. The goal is to have fun and be creative while doing something together.
- Play Pretend Together: Young children often have fun when they play pretend. Perhaps they pretend that the floor is lava while they bounce from once couch to the other. Rather than asking your children to quit horsing around, join them in their game of fun and imagination. Build blanket forts together, have a tea party, or play a game of dress up. Not only is this a fantastic way to bond, it also allows you to strengthen your child’s form of creativity and expression.
Each of the bonding exercises mentioned above can assist you in forming stronger relationships with your young children. As your children age, they will appreciate the memories that you created together. Because of those memories, they will look back with happiness rather than regret. It will improve the relationships between all of you so that you can imagine your future 20 years from now and smile.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).