Opportunities for Interacting with Your Child

Many everyday activities can be wonderful opportunities to interact with your child.  

Here are some ways to make everyday routines extra special.

Dressing/Undressing Time

The key to quality time as you’re getting your child dressed and undressed is to allow enough time for the activity.  This may mean getting up a few minutes earlier, or starting your evening routine with some time to spare.  As you give your child choices about what to wear or what to take off first, you are following your child’s lead.  To ease the morning process, have your child select their clothing the night before.

Meal Time

Not all mealtimes can be relaxed, but try to choose one meal during the day when you will have enough time for interaction.  Talk may focus around food preparation, different foods you are serving, which foods are particularly enjoyable or any topic relating to the child’s life.  It is hard for young children to sit at the table for long periods of time, so let them “close the circle” by taking a break, or leaving the table when they have finished.

Car Time

You, as the adult, must focus on the road when you are driving.  Even careful drivers can engage with their passengers, and children tend to be better passengers if they are involved.  A relaxed conversation in which your child takes the lead, or a sing-along for which he chooses the songs, are both possible and appropriate.

Coming and Going Time

Arrival at school and departure for home are both important transition times.  Plan to have at least a little time to get your child settled on arrival, to read a short story, visit the class pet, or look at a special toy.  Show your support through your interest and your warm but clear good-bye.  When picking up your child, allow him/her to see connections between you and the teacher.  Take a moment to allow your child to share something important about the day while you are still in the school setting.

Bath Time

If it is not hurried, bath time provides an ideal setting for floor time interaction.  Bath toys have wonderful properties as they float, get dunked, and come in contact with each other. the water itself provides many opportunities for play.  Children relax naturally in the water.  Take advantage of and enjoy play opportunities with bath-time toys or games that your child initiates.

Book Time

Reading a book to a child is often the last activity of the day. This is a natural time for close contact and shared meanings. Your child may be in your lap or next to you on a chair or bed.  As you read, be aware of responses and questions that you can extend (If your child is totally absorbed, however, it’s best to continue reading and simply enjoy the sense of shared interest, saving floor time for tomorrow).

Bed Time

Bedtime is often accompanied by a ritual, but it is also a moment to feel close and loving.  Children sometimes share important thoughts and feelings during the last moments before falling asleep.  Although you will not want to “rev” up your child before sleep, you can respond with empathy and stay close until the child is calm and feels safe enough to go to sleep.