Five Minute Parent Child Bonding Activities

Ideas to Help Promote Bonding Through Activities

These activities are not for every foster or adoptive parent or every foster or adoptive child. Only do what is comfortable for you and your foster/adopted child. Keep in mind:

  • The child's age - chronological and emotional
  • The child's history of abuse and/or neglect
  • The child's comfort levels

Please note these activities are not a way to create an instant bond between you and your child. Bonding is a process that takes time. These activities are only ideas that may help start the process...MORE of bonding between you and your foster or adopted child.

  • 01 of 10

    Brushing Hair

    Mother brushing daughters hair
    Ableimages/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    This can be a great and easy way to spend time with a child. It also involves a safe touch. Physical touch is so important to creating a loving bond.

  • 02 of 10

    Read a Story

    Father reading to daughter
    Biz Jones / Getty Images

    Not only will you be increasing your bond by spending time together, you'll be increasing the child's vocabulary and other literacy skills.

  • 03 of 10

    Sing Songs

    Father and daughter in costumes singing into hairbrushes
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    Maybe people have wonderful memories of being sung to by their parents. Favorites include Old Macdonald, London Bridge, and many different Sunday School songs. Also try songs like "This Little Piggy" where each line of the song is sung as you tickle a toe, as it involves appropriate, safe touching with a child who may be fearful of touch due to past abuse.

  • 04 of 10

    Clapping Games and Rhymes

    Caucasian mother and daughter playing clapping game
    Mike Kemp / Getty Images

    Remember the games played on elementary playgrounds? If not here are some Web sites with words. This is a fun activity involving safe touch: please just remember to use your best judgment in choosing which rhymes to teach your child as some may not be appropriate for young children.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Bed Time Routine

    Mother carrying sleepy daughter
    Inti St Clair / Getty Images

    A routine can include tucking in with a soft blanket, hugs, and kisses, a short story, song, or prayer. Keep in mind the comfort level of all involved. If a history of sexual abuse exists or you don't know the child's history, protect yourself against allegations by having another adult with you at bedtime.

  • 06 of 10

    Staring Contest

    Maintain direct eye contact, the first person to look away or blink loses. A fun game for older children and a great way to have eye contact which helps build attachment. Be sure the child does not interpret this activity as threatening or intimidating and understands that it is a game.

  • 07 of 10

    Hand Games

    Your child might also enjoy other safe touching activities like Rock Paper Scissors or thumb wrestling. 

  • 08 of 10

    Paint Finger and Toe Nails

    Father painting daughters toenails with nail polish
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    This is a sweet way to spend five minutes with a child. Consider allowing the child to paint your nails.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10


    This is one bonding activity in which you must calculate emotional age, history, and comfort levels. Even some older children may welcome being held and rocked, but you might want to speak to your child's therapist first to gauge their unique needs and preferences. 

  • 10 of 10


    Applying lotion to a child's hands and feet can also be part of a bedtime routine. ​Caution: remember to consider child's sexual abuse history, age, and comfort level with this activity. Some abused children can misinterpret different kinds of touch. If you sense that any activity is upsetting to the child - stop. Document the incident, tell the therapist at your next meeting.