As our lives have gotten very busy over the past couple months with my return to work, we have gotten away from playing these O’ so important attachment games. We have recently returned to play therapy with our wonderful adoption counselor and it was a great reminder of how far we have come but how we are still on a path of attachment and not quite there yet.
So, as a refresher to myself, and hopefully others, I thought I would write this week on our ‘go to’ attachment games that we’ve been using over the past year.
It is important during the games that the parent is in control and doing the activity ‘to’ the child. The parent is never the one being wrapped up, having candies on them or lotion rubbed on them, but reinforcing ‘I’m the grow up and I will take care of you’ is as important of a message as the touch, eye contact and fun during these games.
Hide and Seek
Going through the motions of separate and then ‘found you!’ is a great way to build that attachment. Kids want to be found and will often call out ‘over here!’ from their hiding spot. Your positive reaction to reuniting with them (“There you are!” hug hug kiss kiss) is what tells them ‘they want me, they are happy to see me’.
Buy some streamers (crepe paper) from the dollar store…and lots of it. Wrap your child up, twisting and turning them and then sing a song like ‘happy birthday’. It’s symbolic as they bust out of the streamers but you also get some physical contact, eye contact to cue them when to burst out and a happy celebration. And it’s fun!
This is Jonathan’s favourite game, because it involves candy no doubt. You could use Cheerios, chocolate chips or any small candy. Have the child lie down on the floor on their back and prop their head a bit on a pillow. You could go through a quick tighten and relax exercise as they need to be very quiet and very still. Place your small candy on their body; forehead, forearms, chest, belly, thighs etc. We do about 5-7. The idea is that the child lays very still and once the candy is placed on them if it falls off you get to eat it, otherwise, kneeling close to your child take one candy at a time and feed it to your child. While you are placing it in their mouth get close and in their space and don’t let go until they give you eye contact.
Also a quiet game where your child has to be a little relaxed and calm, although this sometimes will calm them. Sometimes…. Sit face to face with your child. Using lotion or powder (that you control) rub it on your child’s hands, arms, nose etc. Whatever they will tolerate. Get in their space as much as possible and pause waiting for eye contact once in a while to continue. You can also use a cotton ball or something soft to gently dab or rub on their skin.
If you have an exercise ball or something wiggley (like a large cushion, or a bunch of couch cushions piled up) for the child to stand on but would not be able to do so with out your help, than grab that object and use it for this game. Have the child stand on the ball and try to maintain their balance while holding onto your hands. Yep that’s it. Easypeasy, attachment is building and you didn’t even know it.
You could do this anyway you please but Jonathan likes to sit on our laps facing us.. Making lots of eye contact we literally just sit for 5 or 10 minutes and make silly faces, weird and random noises and silly gestures while the child copies. It took a long time to build up to Jonathan letting us be the one leading but we can now get him to follow us for 10-15 gestures before he needs to take back control. In this game, we allow him to do it so he feels safe
Jonathan is pretty rough and tumble so he really likes this one. We always played it on our bed as it’s bigger. Stand at the foot of the bed and have your child stand close to you on the bed. Sometimes he faces me, sometimes not. Sometimes his eyes are open sometimes closed. We will push and tickle and tackle always returning to the start to reset. Jonathan started asking for me to be mad at him and tell him to ‘come here!’, meaning return to the foot of the bed as he stood at the pillows. Our therapist suggested that is because he wanted to act out a happy ending where if I pretend I’m mad and go grab him and tackle him down to the pillows and tickle him and be silly, he see’s that I’m happy and he’s safe so he can rewrite the story with a much happier ending.
Cotton ball blow
Lie on your bellies facing each other with about 2 feet between your heads. Hold hands so your arms are outstretched in front of you and create an ‘arena’ for your hockey/soccer cotton ball. Using only your breath blow the cotton ball back and forth. During the game you have physical touch, eye contact and lots of silly laughs.
Please share your favourite attachment games in the comments:)
Happy weekend everyone!