7. Have him help with little kids – Not in a babysitting fashion, but present it as a “help me teach” situation. Most of our big kids missed out on little kid appropriate activities. However, my 15yr old son is not likely going to want to play Hi-Ho Cherry-O with me. However, if presented in a “help me teach” fashion, he will likely sit and play the game with me AND the 4yr old brother. This gives the boys time to interact and attach with each other – that’s the bonus. The real need met is allowing the 15yr old to recreate appropriate little kid activities with a parent. (If no siblings, any “borrowed preschooler” will do. Babysit for a friend’s kids? Help with church nursery?)
8. Cooking – One of our family’s attachment therapists recommends this often. Cook, cook, cook with your child. Eating is one of our primal basic needs and so it becomes one of the basic ways to attach. She always suggests that we do cooking, but especially using any “hands in” activities, using as many sensory skills as possible.
9. Take her EVERYWHERE with you. As much as possible, take the child everywhere with you, all the time. The child that I most closely attached to – and vice versa, came as a teen foster child. Her caseworker INSISTED that she never be home alone and that she never be left in the care of anyone who was not a licensed foster parent. Well, this left her and my husband. We’d learned earlier that leaving a teen girl home alone with dad was not the wisest move, not with disturbed children who’ve already made allegations. So, she came EVERYWHERE with me. At first, I admit to NOT being happy about this at all. I cherished my alone time. Now, I had none outside of my home. For a year, if I went to Walgreens, so did she. If I went to a movie, so did she. When I took a little one to physical therapy, she came along. By the end, you’ve never seen a more intensely bonded pair than that girl and her momma. And mom learned a lesson to use as much as possible with other children.
10. Read books to him – No explanation needed. Bedtime story routines are good for big people just as much as little people.
11. Special quilt – This is a VERY special, nearly sacred issue at our house. When a child comes to our house, we either make or buy a quilt together (OK, usually buy – I’m not so crafty.). That is their “sick or sad” quilt. Whenever they are sick or sad, they use this quilt. And it’s their very own. I’m not kidding – this is big stuff around here – NOONE uses someone else’s quilt. We don’t mention – but it’s clearly known – that the quilt comes from mom. The comfort comes from mom. The kids use them often without worry what someone will think – because they all use them (with the exception of a currently resistant, newest daughter). They drag them down to watch TV, they curl up when they’re sick, they sit to do homeschool with the quilt around their legs after a tense phone call with a birth family member. While my original intent was just sort of a “cool thing” to do, this quilt thing has taken on it’s own life – but perhaps become one of the neatest bonding activities in our whole family.