FUN IN A FEW MINUTES
ACTIVITIES TO TRY AT HOME WITH
David L. Myrow
West Seneca, NY 14224 USA
Few families have the luxury of having lots
of free time to just play together. When
both parents work outside the home, or when there is just
one parent at home, ordinary activities like meals and homework
take up most of the available time. It is easy to feel
that we are "just going through the motions," of daily life,
without feeling close or important to each other. Busy
parents can use Theraplay® activities to enjoy more closeness
and have fun with their children.
Many ordinary children's games can be made
into Theraplay® activities. To do this, the games
need to be made more physically intimate, with tactics that
increase emotional closeness (providing nurture and engagement)
and the rules need to be clarified, with the adult in charge
(providing structure and challenge). In therapeutic
practice, of course, the activities are only one aspect of
the experience, and the Theraplay®therapist adapts the
activities to meet the family's goals. When children
are resistant to having this kind of fun, the therapist has
to spend time helping the child feel more comfortable first.
However, most children will be able to enjoy the following
activities right away. Remember to use your own eyes
to seek eye contact, and to look for opportunities for comfortable
physical closeness. CHECK THIS PAGE OFTEN FOR NEW ACTIVITIES!
And let us know how it goes!
Child and parent sit cross-legged, touching knees.
Adult puts his hands on the child's shoulders; child puts
his hands on Dad's arms. Adult says, "When I say
Go [or "3" or "pumpkins," etc.], we have
to look into each other's eyes. The last person to blink
wins, and the winner gets the prize: he can give the
other guy a hug or a tickle."
Tunnels (or Bridges)
This is best done where there is about 10 or12 feet of
open floor space. Adult makes a bridge (or tunnel) in
the middle of the area by making an arch with her body (hands
and feet or knees on the floor). Adult tells the child
to get on hands and knees in a corner or side of the room,
facing the adult. The adult says, "When I say Go,
you start crawling as fast as you can. I'm going to
count to five, and when I get to five, the tunnel is going
to fall down – if you are in it, you will get it, so crawl
as fast as you can!" The adult makes it so that the
child can get through the tunnels a few times before it falls
down, by decreasing the number of counts: "Now see if
you can get through in just three counts. Go!"
When the tunnel falls down, the adult gives a few hugs or
Guess the Goodies
The adult prepares for this in advance by placing eight
or ten little goodies in an envelope or cup so that they can
be kept hidden from the child. These might include m
& ms, raisins, a little pretzel, a grape, a piece of apple,
other candies or goodies - only ones that the child likes!
The treats need to be the right size for the child's age,
e.g., big grapes should be cut in half for very young children.
Then the adult and child sit either knee to knee, or for younger
children, with the child in the adult's lap, so that they
can see each other comfortably. Adult says, "I've got
some delicious goodies in this envelope. I want you
to close your eyes. I'll put one of these in your mouth
and you see if you can guess what it is. Then you can
eat it! After I put the goodie in your mouth, you can open
your eyes while you guess what it is." The adult seeks
eye contact throughout and gives ample hints if the child
does not recognize the treat. Afterward, the adult might
ask which ones the child likes best.