We all long for those sweet moments with our children where we feel like our hearts will just burst with love. That feeling is connection, and its essential to adults and kids alike.

Connection is also what allows kids to feel safe and secure enough to explore and develop.

It’s the reason kids willingly follow our instructions. Children who feel strongly connected to their caregivers actually want to cooperate.


Researchers have found that we need five positive interactions to each negative interaction to keep a relational bond healthy and strong.


Think about that for a minute…five to one! Now think about how much time you spend correcting, nagging, redirecting, and even yelling at your kids.

That’s why it’s crucial we make time for positive toddler activities that will strengthen the parent-child bond.

I’ve found that the trick to creating special moments with your children is to be really focused and intentional when engaging in toddler activities.

Considering that parenting is a challenging job we often have to juggle with many competing priorities, the only real way to maintain strong bonds is to build pockets of connection into our daily routines.

That’s we we put together a list of activities you can do daily with your little one to help bring you closer together. Read on to learn more…


Toddler Activities That Build Connection


1. Lots Of Hugs

Snuggle with your child first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. Hug them on the daily, and do it often!


“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Virginia Satir, family therapist


Whenever you come home to your little one, greet them with a big warm hug. Periodically shout “family hug” and gather everyone into a giant group hug.

Physical connection builds emotional connection. Sharing loving touch is what helps create strong bonds.


2. Laugh And Play

It’s true what they say, laughter IS the best medicine! Some of my favorite moments with my son are when we both find something funny and burst into spontaneous laughter.

Make a daily laugh habit! Don’t be afraid to get silly.

By giving kids a chance to laugh out their anxieties, you help them manage the big emotions that might otherwise make them act out in a temper tantrum. Laughter is one of our favorite toddler activities.


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3. Focus Without Distraction

During playtime really BE there for your kids. That means, put the devices away, turn off the TV, and focus only on them.

Your child will always remember how they were important enough to warrant your full attention.


4. Listen and Ask Questions

Just because toddlers are still learning language skills, doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say.

Connection starts with listening. Try using phrases like “Really?…Tell me more…Is that so?…How did that happen…”

Spending a few minutes in a question and answer mode is one of those toddler activities that can help you see the reasons for a behavior that might be driving you nuts.

You’d be surprised the insights this little exercise can provide!


5. One-on-One Time

If you have more than one child, do your best to schedule at least 15 minutes of one-on-one time with each of them.

Finding different ways to connect with each child individually makes them feel special.

This is especially important for your toddler if you have a new baby in the house that’s taking a lot of your time and attention, as babies do.

A little mommy-and-me alone time is something kids will remember for the rest of their lives.


6. Toddler Games

Little ones love nothing more than to play games with you. It’s one of their very favorite toddler activities!

Stick to the classics, even though they might seem a little *ahem* repetitive, your child loves them.

We’re talking about games like peek-a-boo, hide-and-seek, patty cake, and the ever popular “I’m gonna get you!”.


7. Dance Party

Kids love to dance and spin, turn that love into a mini-dance party!

Crank up the music and dance and spin along with your little one. It’s a purely joyful bonding moment for both of you.


8. Cuddle Sessions

Get in some cuddling time while they’re still young. Because there will come a day when they won’t want to cuddle as much anymore. Sniff.

Snuggle together after nap time. Cuddle up on the couch while watching a show. These are the sweet moments that make parenting worthwhile.


9. Piggy Back Rides

This is another one of our favorite toddler activities that brings you closer. Piggy back rides!

Kids love this so much! And someday they’ll be too heavy for you to carry on your shoulders, so enjoy it now.

My son especially liked to see himself when he was on my back, it made him giggle non-stop. Try passing by a shiny surface or mirror so they can catch their reflection.


10. Bedtime Routine

This is prime toddler bonding time. Set your child’s bedtime a little early and take advantage of the extra minutes by reconnecting at the end of the day.

Read a story together. Not only is this a great bonding experience, it helps teach crucial language skills.

Spend some extra time talking and snuggling in the dark. This is a great opportunity to find out what’s going on in your child’s world.

If they are struggling with something it’s during this time of close connection that they’ll share it with you.


11. Arts & Crafts Projects

Engaging in art or craft activities with your kids is a great way to provide not only a fun experience, but a therapeutic one as well.

When engaged in toddler activities like art, we provide children an outlet to express their thoughts and feelings. Especially younger kids who may not have the vocabulary to share complex emotions.


12. Eat Meals Together

Even if you don’t eat the same thing, eat together at the same time. This is the magic hour when all the kids and adults can sit together and enjoy the connection between them.

As soon as they’re mature enough, get your kids involved in the preparation process. It can start by putting silverware on the table, and move on to cooking as they get old enough to handle it.

Research has shown that involving children in meal preparation helps foster family bonding and togetherness, and even reduces behavior problems.


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13. Treat Time

Every once in a while, break your own rules and surprise your kids with a special treat. It can be something as simple as pizza for breakfast one Saturday, or an unexpected trip to a carnival or fun zone.

Since it’s totally unexpected, your kids will know how special it is and they’ll understand that you are sharing a bonding moment.


14. Family Language

Have your own little secret family code. Make up nicknames for each other, or come up with silly names for things you use all the time.

Calling the kitchen broom “Mrs. Witchy” or your nightly reading session the “evening story glory” will help you bond as a family.


15. Create Family Rituals

Routines, rituals and traditions are toddler activities that have a lasting impact.

Do something fun on a regular basis, like singing a special song in the car on the way to school, or having “pancake Sundays”.

Toddlers are going through huge developmental changes, anything consistent in their world helps them feel secure and thereby more connected to you.

Odds are you already connect with your child in some of these ways, but keep in mind we’re aiming for positive interactions to outnumber negative ones five to one.

The more you connect with daily toddler activities, the more you can access that genuine sense of enjoyment and delight in your children. You’ll be building special memories that you both will cherish for a lifetime.


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