20 Activities for parent-child bonding

It is important to spend time with your children – not just when they are small, but also in their teenage years. Time spent together will help the family build memories – these are the things your kids will remember when they're grown up and start their own families.

Spending time with the kids is not only about helping them with their homework or making sure they do their chores; it could be simple yet fun stuff that you can do together.

Here are some ideas for you:

Read a story together
This is something you can do with toddlers. It need not be a dull activity where you read and your child listens. You could make it interactive by asking your child what he/she thinks happens next. Or get your child to participate by making the animal sounds or the sound effects in the story. If it's a story you're both familiar with, you could also do a bit of play acting.

Sing songs
This is a great bonding activity if you're in the car on a long-ish drive, stuck in a jam or even when driving out of town for a holiday. Alternatively, you could also set aside some time to sit down in a room with your child, pop in the CD and sing along. You could also make it fun by dancing along to the music and songs.

This one is also for toddlers. Kids sometimes get bored when you ask them to sit still and just do some colouring. You will often find them attempting to do something else or wanting to do what you are doing after five minutes. But, as soon as you sit down and do some colouring, they suddenly seem more interested. Colouring with your toddler is a great opportunity to have a chat, ask her about her day, why she likes certain colours, etc. You can even show her how to mix colours and do some shading. Colouring can be therapeutic for adults, too.

Play games
Try having game time with your kids. You could try playing board games or card games. Do it a few times per session or play a few different games. Perhaps have Friday nights as your game night. As you play, you can chat with your child about other things as well and teach her to be competitive without being a sore loser.

Go to the park together
This is a great activity to help you both keep fit. You could go cycling together, jog, run or just kick the football around. Or you could even both take the dog out for a walk.

Bake and cook
While you cook or bake for the family, get your child to help out in the kitchen. It may start out as a chore to him/her, but as they start learning, they will know how to help you without being asked. And, this can be a great opportunity to teach them to cook and bake, too. You'll be surprised what they will remember when they grow up and leave the nest.

Plant seedlings and do some gardening
While you potter around the garden and do some weeding, teach your child about watering the plants. Then get some seedlings to plant and let your child take charge of that plant as it grows. It's a great way to teach your child to love nature as you share your love for gardening with him.

Have an indoor picnic
It would be lovely to have a picnic in the garden but let's be practical, it's way too hot and humid in Malaysia to have an outdoor picnic. So, instead, why not have an indoor picnic. You could even make it special by making it for just you and your child. Have some tea-time delicacies (scones, cakes, sandwiches) and you can even ask your child if she wants to “invite” her bears and dolls.

Host a party for two
This is pretty much the same as the picnic, except you might have music, dancing, games and even a present for your child. If you want to save money and yet want your child to feel special on her next birthday, this party for two is the way to go.

Visit an orphanage and play with other kids
This is something you can do with the upper primary kids to introduce the idea of charity and caring for the less fortunate to them. Hopefully, it will leave an impression on them and they will learn to appreciate what they have at home.

Play dressup
This might be more for primary school kids. If you have lots of shoes and scarves and hats or costumes, playing dressup will be great fun. Your kids will love it and it'll help them develop their imagination and creativity.

Arts and crafts
This is something you can easily do and really doesn't need to cost a sen. Just look around the house to see what you have – paper, glue, scissors, paint and old egg cartons. Use your creativity and come up with something from what you have around the house. Arts and crafts isn't about buying those kits that cost RM39.90 and making stained glass or a photo frame. You could just use stuff you no longer want and make something creative with it.

Have a jam session using toy musical instruments
This is more for toddlers and preschoolers. Let loose and jam with your son/daughter. It doesn't have to follow any tune or even be really musical. It could just be an opportunity to play music with your kids. They will love to see you playing one of their musical instrument toys along with them. Remember to relax and enjoy the “play” more than the “music” part. If you are musically-inclined, you can introduce the concept of rhythm to your child.

Go on a trek in the garden to find interesting items
It could be odd-shaped or unusual looking stones, or cute looking leaves and snails. You can even play I Spy …. This is just a way to do something together in the garden and away from the TV and the videogames.

Photo project
Take lots of photos together in funny poses and with funny faces. Print them and collage them into one large photo frame. This can be a Christmas present or birthday present project for someone else in the family – maybe Grandma or Grandpa.

Rock painting
This is an extension of the arts and crafts and the garden trek activities. Pick a rock from the garden, whip out your paints and brushes and start painting.

Paint each other's nails
This one's for the girls. They will love it. You can play beauty salon. Try out different colours and see how you both like them.

Make clothes for dolls
Another activity you can do with your young daughters. Make it simple and get your daughter involved in choosing the fabric and simple design decisions. You will need to do the sewing though, so make it as simple as you can.

Wash the car
Teach your kids to help out as you wash the car. They might initially complain that it's hard work, but if you make it fun and even competitive, they will want to do it again. Plus, it's a great opportunity to play with water and soap!

Go out for tea
Your kids will love to go out with you for tea. Find a nice fancy place to have English tea and muffins or scones. Get them dressed up for the occasion if you really want to make it special. Girls might enjoy this more than boys, though.

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