Attachment: Where Healing Happens
According to GoodTherapy®, an organization providing mental health resources, love and connection are important factors in the healing process of children who have experienced trauma. One way to promote love and connection is spending quality time together. Quality time helps foster trust, attachment and security, which ultimately leads to healing. Quality time does not have to be elaborate or expensive. Playing a board game or taking a walk can have more impact than spending the day at a trampoline park. It is the personal, individualized attention and interaction that is most valuable. Below are simple activities families can do together that fosters connection and healing.
Dancing is one of the best ways to offer a child a feeling of closeness and connection. If the child is younger, hold them in your arms and close up against your chest as you dance with them. If they are older, you can do a silly dance or learn a new dance
together. Dancing is a great synchronized activity to try with your child.
Arts and Crafts
Crafting with children is an excellent way to spend quality time together. While you and your child are creating masterpieces, talk about topics that are of interest. General conversations often lead to deeper conversations which will tell you where your child is at emotionally. Conversations pave the way to building strong connections.
Games Requiring Eye Contact
According to the Karin Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University, loving and warm eye contact is a vital component in building secure attachment and attuning to children’s needs. This is especially true for older children as caregivers did not have the opportunity to feed, cuddle and gaze into their eyes during the children’s early years as infants. Listed below are activities and games that encourage positive eye contact:
- Play peek-a-boo with younger children – this promotes eye contact in a playful way and builds trust
- Do each other’s nails and/or makeup or give high fives – in addition to eye contact, these activities also provides an opportunity for positive physical touch
- Push them on a swing – stand in front of the child, instead of behind, to promote eye contact
This activity promotes positive physical touch and helps build trust. Make sure to start slow, as it may be intimidating for some children. According to Psych Central, an organization that provides mental health resources, piggyback rides may help strengthen parent-child relationships and repair or enhance attachment due to physical closeness.
Psych Central reports that brushing children’s hair and allowing them to brush your hair fosters connection. This calming activity also produces a sense of nurturing, which connects to a person’s internal experience of attachment and bonding.