5 Creative Ways to Engage in Purposeful Parenting
Purposeful Parenting highlights the significant relational value of parents and children having resilient and meaningful connections with one another. Purposeful Parenting embraces understanding, unconditional love, and empathy with the consistency of structure, safety, and healthy boundaries. To parent with purpose is to be an active contributor in sustaining rapport, connection, and intention with your child or teen. According to Ohio’s American Academy of Pediatrics, being Protective, Personal, Progressive, Positive, Playful, and Purposeful in our relationships decreases the impact of chronic stress exposure and ultimately supports a child’s fullest potential and well-being.
For children who have experienced trauma and loss in their young lives, having adult attachments that engage with purpose and compassion can be a key component to their healing. Perry (2006) speaks to how a child’s relationship with the adults in their lives has an essential component to how they react to trauma. Perry also notes that if a child is surrounded and nurtured by caregivers who are safe, comforting, dependable, and present; this can help protect youth from the adverse effects of trauma, as well as strengthen their ability to recover. “Recognizing the power of relationships and relational cues is essential to effective therapeutic work, and indeed, to effective parenting, caregiving, teaching, and just about any other human endeavor.” (p. 67).
The concepts of purposeful parenting and fostering relational enrichment inspired me to reflect on some fun and creative activities for families (and adult helpers involved in children’s lives) to engage in together that encourage affirming experiences and supportive interaction. Creative experiences can be an enjoyable way to foster connection, develop interpersonal ties, and positive memories:
• Painting with Bubbles or Shaving Cream: These sensory-based twists on painting can encourage play and experimentation between child and parent using simple, inexpensive materials. Levine & Kline (2008) cite that activities involving art expression such as painting and drawing are great bonding opportunities for parents to engage in alongside their children.
• Sidewalk Chalk: Grab a bucket or box of sidewalk chalk, head outside and take a break to chalk it up together—at home, a local park, or playground! Suggested ideas to support collective participation in this activity include drawing where the child and parent can add to one another’s images, marks, or doodles. If you are up for making your own sidewalk chalk, here’s how. Families can also play these classic sidewalk chalk games together.
• Nature Walk & Scavenger Hunt: Parents, young children, and teens can benefit from unplugging and taking time to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and reconnect! Take a walk in nature, go biking or hiking together. Create a scavenger hunt of different nature items that the family can look for and find as a group or in pairs.
• Homemade Play Dough and Goop: Spend a morning or afternoon making a batch of play dough together, or for older kids goop recipes can be equally as inviting and fun. You can even make scented play dough, which can add another sensory component to this experience.
• Visit an Art Museum, Art Festival, or Creative Community Event: Check out your local art museum, gallery or art event as a family outing. Many museums have family related programming or guides that can help enhance your experience!
There is true power in the relationships we nurture for the children and teens we care for, either as parents, caregivers, or helpers. Let’s continue to enrich these healthy attachments by cultivating safe experiences and moments of meaning all year round.
Levine, P.A., & Kline, M. (2008). Trauma-proofing your kids: A parent’s guide to instilling confidence, joy, and resilience. Berkeley : North Atlantic Books.
Perry, B.D., & Szalavitz, M. (2006). The boy who was raised as a dog. New York:Basic Books.
Introduction to Purposeful Parenting (PDF) | Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
The Benefits of Purposeful Parenting | Office of Adolescent Health http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/news/e-updates/eupdate-4.html
The Artful Parent: http://artfulparent.com