10 Simple Ways To Build Your Connection With Your Adopted Child

Are you looking for some simple ways to help connect with your child?

Shannon Hicks March 03, 2017

Are you looking for some simple ways to help connect with your child? Check out these ideas that are cheap, quick, and don’t require a lot of materials or preparation. They won’t all be great for every child, but give some of them a try and feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments.

1. Cook

Cooking is a great parallel activity and lots of children feel safer talking (especially about hard things) when they are side by side with a parent instead of face to face. The sights, smells, sounds, and tastes in the kitchen can be great for sensory-seeking children. And you end up with something to eat… what could be a better bonding experience?

2. Read

Read to and with your children as long and as often as they will let you. From Brown Bear to Anne of Green Gables (both favorites in my house), anything is fair game. When your child learns to read, you can take turns or let them read to you, but reading together is a great calming activity, no matter your child’s age.

3. Watch

Sporting events, plays, and yes, even movies and TV shows. Watching together gives you a shared memory, and sometimes all an exhausted parent can muster is snuggling on the couch and watching a movie. If you’re doing it together, it counts!

4. Move

Get outside and go for a walk. Toss a ball around, wrestle in the living room, splash around in a lake. Do something active together.

5. Go

Riding in the car is another parallel activity that helps many children feel safe enough to talk. Go on a road trip. Even though both of my kids need lots of physical activity and I’m not a huge fan of driving, we all do surprisingly well on long car rides. Explore a new city (or even your own city). See the sights. Take photos. Enjoy the local cuisine.

6. Learn

Let your child give you a lesson on his or her “thing.” Minecraft, My Little Ponies, whatever they love. Take half an hour and let them teach you all about it. Look into your child’s eyes (if he or she will let you!), savor the enthusiasm, and let your child be the teacher.

7. Play

Board games, card games, imaginative play, sports… all of these are great ways to bond with your child while helping them practice turn-taking and problem-solving skills.

9. Touch

People expect parents to hold, carry, rock and snuggle their infants and toddlers. Sometimes, children who were adopted didn’t get the physical touch that they needed when they were younger. It is perfectly appropriate for parents to fill these needs for physical touch with older children too. Letting your child experience safe, affectionate touch from you is a great way to build your connection.

10. Remember

The first year after adoption is full of many firsts… your first Valentine’s Day, Easter, summer vacation, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas together. Take pictures of all of these! And after that first year, remember together. A shared story brings people together, so take time to reminisce (photographs are a really helpful tool for remembering—especially for younger children).

11. Imagine

Often parents do not have all of the information that they wish they had about their children who were adopted. It’s OK to imagine together with your child what she or he might have looked like as an infant, or how he or she might have explored precociously as a toddler. Imagine the past together, and then imagine the future.

Have you used any of these activities to connect with your children? Which ones worked best? And what would you add?

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Shannon Hicks

Shannon is mom to two amazing kids who joined her family through foster care adoption. She is passionate about advocating for children through her writing and her job as a kindergarten teacher. You can read more from her at Adoption, Grace and Life.

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