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9 Ways to Enhance Attachment with your School Aged Child

June 5, 2010

This is the third article in a series of blog posts about attachment-enhancing activities with children of various ages. You can read about encouraging attachment with your infant here, and encouraging attachment with your toddler and preschooler here.

Which leads us to the next age group- kids who are older than preschool but younger than teenager. That’s a big group of kids! And likewise, there is a big list of activities that would encourage or enhance attachment with your school-age child. This is a small list and I encourage you to use your imagination to engage in activities that: are fun, encourage closeness (physical and emotional), and involve physical activity.

    • Gather and keep important information about your child- pictures, school work, art projects. Do this WITH your child- ask your child for help with choosing what art projects are extra special.
    • Request information about your child’s past from previous foster parents, orphanage director, or social workers. Include this information in their life book.
    • Construct their lifebook TOGETHER.

      WHY LIFEBOOKS?!?!?!

      • They help a child develop a cohesive narrative about their past- their story.
      • They help a child develop a sense of self and identity
      • They tell your child “you are important”

    I LOVE LIFEBOOKS!!!! I will probably have to blog on this issue more in the future. Lifebooks are not exclusively for children who have been in substitute care or who have been adopted. Make a lifebook for ALL children!!!

  • Be physically present with your child- do lots of things together, even household activities like cooking or folding laundry.
  • Provide opportunities to succeed.
    • Bake a cake together where the end result is tangible.
    • Get your child involved in a new activity- soccer, piano, or martial arts…
  • Kinesthetic (physical) activities
    • Play outside, go to the park- raise your heart rate!!!
  • Have them direct your experiences together (within reason)- let the child choose how you are going to spend 30 minutes today, even if the activity is “boring” to you.
  • Develop rituals and routines, special events
    • Routines and traditions help a child feel a sense of belonging to your family.
  • Honor old rituals and routines (when appropriate)
    • Ask your child how their first family or foster family decorated for Christmas or celebrated their birthday.
    • Maintain a similar bedtime or morning routine as the family who your child lived with previously.
  • Encourage touch in a safe and non-threatening way
    • hand on the shoulder
    • hair brushing
    • finger nail painting
    • “draw” on their back with your finger and have your child guess what you are “drawing”
  • Allow and encourage your child to talk about their first family or previous foster families



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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

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