10 Daily Rituals That Help Parents Bond with Young Children

These simple, effective rituals can be completed in 10 minutes or less.

Posted Dec 27, 2019

Research suggests that positive parenting is associated with more positive school adjustment, healthy intellectual and social growth, and fewer behavior problems as children get older. It is also a protective factor that helps shield children from various risks such as family stress or socioeconomic disadvantage.

A key aspect of positive parenting is “bonding,” achieved through simple acts of connecting with children. Bonding can be nurtured through touch, laughter, listening, positivity, sharing time or experiences, and having fun together. 

Research has shown that if a young child feels secure with one parent, they will reap the benefits of more stable emotions and behavior later in life. If you're close to your child, you'll feel happier too.

Here are some simple daily rituals that help parents bond with young children, each of which can be completed in 10 minutes or less:

  1. Get down on the floor with kids and play what they want to play (whether dollhouse, Legos, catch, puppet show, or table tennis) for 10 minutes each day. Follow their lead.
  2. Start the day positive. Give your child a hug and say “I love you so much” when he/she walks down the stairs each morning.
  3. Provide children with 10 minutes at bedtime to tell you about the ups and downs of their day (review the day’s details to help them remember what they want to share).
  4. Be playful with your child (through peek-a-boo, hide and seek, crazy song, dance party, gentle joking, reading a book in a silly way, etc.) at least once a day.
  5. Catch your child being good at least 3 times a day. Aim for what the Gottman Institute calls the “magic ratio” of 5 positive interactions to every 1 challenging interaction to help your relationship thrive.
  6. Play upbeat or relaxing music or sing to or with your child.
  7. Get outside with your child at least once a day for 10 minutes.
  8. Sit down at every dinner and eat beside your child. Engage in friendly conversation.
  9. Read children at least 3 books a day. Let them sit on your lap or cuddle next to you.
  10. Give your child a role, a job, or a way to contribute each day (whether matching socks, unloading the dishwasher, passing out plates, shoveling snow, or spraying and wiping a countertop).

Parts of this blog post have been excerpted from the book Joy Fixes for Weary Parents: 101 Quick, Research-Based Ideas to Overcome Stress and Build a Life You Love, by Erin Leyba, LCSW, Ph.D.

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