If you’re an Au Pair, you may be wondering how to bond with children in your care. Or, if you’re a Host Parent, maybe you’re wondering how to set your Au Pair up for a successful bonding experience right from the start.
How to Bond with Children in Your Care
10 Effective Strategies to engage, educate, and bond with children
Relationships take work, right? The same is true for kids. Yes, crazy as it sounds, caring for kids usually involves having a relationship with those kids. These different dynamics often leave people wondering how to bond with children they haven’t watched before.
Not every relationship is the same, of course, but they all take work. Bonding takes time spent together, preferably without major stress. When you are struggling to really connect with the kids you’ve been hired to care for, try out a few of these free or super affordable ideas.
Draw/Paint with the kids you care for to encourage creative bonding
Even if they (or you) are not great at it, drawing and painting can serve as great conversation starters with kids. Draw something that you can see or try to copy a picture. Kids love when you draw them, so try doing portraits. If you have supplies, paint the drawings you make. You will definitely have some laughs.
Use coloring books to help children share their interests with you
Little kids, and big ones too, usually love to color. Older kids can fill in those really detailed, patterned pictures if regular coloring books seem to baby-ish. Crayons and colored pencils are perfect choices to create some refrigerator-worthy art.
Blocks and LEGO projects are great for bonding with kids
This is one of the best solutions for anyone wondering how to bond with children more effectively. This activity lets you into the child’s imagination, which can help you grow closer.
Build a tall block tower, create something out of your imagination or get a LEGO project. Yes, little ones love to knock down block towers and make taller ones. Building anything with kids can be a great way to start a conversation. Older children will enjoy following the steps to complete a larger, more complicated project with you.
Playgrounds and swings help children be themselves around a new childcare provider
Who doesn’t love swings? Try visiting a local playground and actually playing with the kids.
Swinging, climbing, jumping and just generally playing are great ways to bond with kids. It can be a time when they become comfortable enough to talk, or just show off their playground skills.
Participating in the kids’ free play will also help them become more comfortable sharing with you. Be sure to encourage make-believe and allow the kids to lead during free play time.
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“After years of stress and frustration, and many different nannies, we decided to look for an au pair. When Veronika arrived on January 2, 2016 our lives were forever changed. We had no idea that a real life Mary Poppins had just arrived!”
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Baking cookies is sure to win kids over
Or cupcakes. Eating healthier? Make a salad together. Kids love to get their hands into it and make food, whether it’s something classic and delicious or something creative and barely edible. Find a healthy dessert recipe the whole family will love. Get kids choosing their own recipes and creating in the kitchen and you will be bonding.
After a day of baking, you won’t be wondering how to bond with children in your care. Instead, you’ll know what it takes to get kids to let their guard down and grow closer to you!
Reading a book gives you a chance to engage with the kids and even bond through snuggling
Kids of all ages love to be read to; don’t believe them if they tell you they are too old for you to read to them. Choose a favorite childhood classic or read something on their interest level. Each of my children has a childhood favorite they continue to love to read as they grow into teens and adults. Sometimes kids want to hear a book they are not quite able to read independently. Talk about the decisions or choices made by the main characters to gain a deeper understanding of the child in your care and his or her motivations.
Playing board games is a fun way to show the kids your personality
Monopoly might be a little long, but there are many options for card and board games available today. Taking turns, winning and losing are great ways to bond with kids in your care. Winning is fun, too. Teach kids a game from your childhood or let them choose one at the store for you to learn to play together.
Walks, hikes, and bike rides build trust with you as a childcare provider
Taking the kids outside can be a good opportunity to show that you can keep them safe. For example, if your Host Kids are still learning to ride a bike, they will learn to trust you to help them ride, or take care of them if they fall.
Maybe the playground you visit has a track, or maybe the local high school or college has one near you. If you’re more into the woods, check out local parks, bike paths or hiking trails near you. In my area, I can access a high school track, several local parks and marked hiking trails, as well as a bike bath. Should you choose to ride bikes, be sure to follow safety guidelines.
Sharing food can help kids let their guard down around their new Au Pair
Not a big chef? You could let the kids pick a frozen meal option or a simple dish to make at home. Or you could let the professionals handle the details and visit a local family restaurant. Like everyone else, kids tend to get chatty over a meal, or at least you can play the tic-tac-toe on the placemat or kiddie menu.
Playing outside together can show children that you’ll do things they like while you’re watching them
It’s a good idea to show the children that they’re allowed to choose what to play. Playing outside gives kids the opportunity to lead play. If you follow along, they’re more likely to accept you as their new childcare provider.
What does the child in your care like to do or play, besides video games? Is there a sport you can help him or her practice? Is there a sport you can share with him or her? Does your neighborhood have a basketball hoop? Maybe you can just play catch or kick a soccer ball around the yard.
You’ve got this. 😉
Working with children and families can be challenging at times, to say the least. Trying a few of these strategies will show you how to bond with children in your care much faster. The strategies that work best will vary from child to child. But generally, all of these are effective activities for engaging kids’ attention.
Keep a positive attitude while the children push your buttons and warm up to you!
Kids are bound to test your boundaries as a new childcare provider. Every child is different. One child might warm up to you immediately while another remains obstinate and grouchy toward you. This is normal, just stay positive.
When you approach the job with a positive attitude of learning and sharing, rather than controlling and dominating, bonding happens easier. Not every relationship begins with an immediate connection, but we can all become connected with time and attention and effort. Sometimes we need to overlook each other’s imperfections. (Like I have any of those! 💁)
Let kids choose what they like or what they want to do when it’s reasonable. Let them teach, show, or ask you something without interrupting or dismissing. Lastly, try to put yourself in the child’s perspective if you’re struggling to bond.
Put yourself or your children in the place of the child with whom you’re trying to bond. Never take “stuff” personally and always show love and humility, even when you don’t feel like it!
Try these strategies for bonding with kids in your care at home!
Now that you’ve been thinking about how to bond with children in your care, it’s time to go try a couple of these strategies. Don’t forget to bookmark the page so you can come back and tell us how it went!