Pairing is a vital part of bonding with your child, regardless of their age or skill level. It can be challenging and frustrating when you really want to play or hang out with them, but you feel like you aren’t connecting. Here are some tips to encourage connection with your child through pairing.
Before jumping into their world, observe how they interact with their surroundings. If they are playing a game, are they following the instructions or making their own rules? If they are playing with blocks, are they building a castle, or like the sound they make when hitting them together? See what it is that they find reinforcing about engaging in certain activities. Be open to the idea that it may look different than you expect.
Enrich The Environment
One way to pair is to enrich the environment. Combine items or activities that are already reinforcing for your kid with a newer or lower reinforcing activity. Is there a song your kid really likes? Have that song play from your phone in your pocket while engaging. You will be paired as the favorite song person! Do they really love a certain puzzle? Have that puzzle out and the new game/activity out at the same time. Blow bubbles while reading books. Get creative! A key tip here is to keep the environment low stress, not placing any expectations on the situation.
Are They Accepting?
In sessions, one way we gauge how we are paired with a person is by considering whether they are accepting from us or approaching us. For example, we are playing with cars on a racetrack. Will they accept a car from me when offered? Are they reaching towards me or asking me for more pieces to the track? If not, we don’t place any demands to do so, however, we stay patient with the process. In this same example, play with your own set of cars while your kid plays with theirs. Stay available for approach. With time and diligence, they will begin to see you are a part of the fun!
The number one thing to remember when pairing with your kid is patience. It may seem impossible to spend all this time doing the most just to try and connect. Start with what is manageable. If that’s 5 minutes, so be it! Pairing takes time and is ever-evolving. When you get discouraged, just remember to take a step back and observe, enrich, and gauge your approach. Happy pairing!