Attachment Focused Play-Developing Relationships and Building Skills

Attachment Focused Play is a particular way of playing with our children that will strengthen their relationship with us, including building trust in us to be able to keep them safe and meet their needs. It is also important because:

  • It helps children to know we are interested in them,
  • It builds their self- esteem and confidence
  • It helps them feel good
  • It helps children see we accept and understand them
  • It helps their language and speech development
  • It helps them communicate with others
  • It helps children learn how to play with others (builds their social skills)
  • It builds their ability to pay attention

How to introduce this:

  1. Pick a time when you and your child can spend 10 – 15 minutes together doing an activity they will enjoy. Focus on this being an enjoyable time together. You can call this time together anything that fits for you and your child (e.g., special play time, special time, our special time together etc.)
  2. Explain what both of you will be doing and encourage your child to choose something they would enjoy doing (one that does not need you to be in charge eg., one where you need to teach them what to do)


Ideas for younger children Ideas for older children
Drawing, colouring in, building blocks, lego, cars, farm set, toy animals, dolls/action figures, play doh, playing with a ball together, cooking set, simple puzzles Making paper planes and flying them, drawing, lego, construction toys, working on a jigsaw puzzle, craft, modelling clay, building things together, dolls/action figures, shooting goals, even gardening together


  1. What to focus on
Things to do Try to
  • Let your child lead the play
  • Give them your full attention
  • Show interest in what they say and do by enthusiastically describing what they are doing
  • Join in the play – copy what they are doing
  • Praise appropriate behaviour e.g., “you’re working hard on your picture”
  • Make it a regular time your child can look forward to.
  • Avoid asking questions, making suggestions about what to do, and being critical
  • Ignore minor inappropriate behaviour however stop the activity if your child becomes aggressive or destructive. Let them know they will get to play with you again another time.
  • Keep to the planned time even if it has been a difficult day with your child


  1. You can use a kitchen timer or other timer to time the 10-15 minutes. When the time is up let your child know it is time to finish. If children have not finished what they are doing they can keep going with it on their own once the time is up or they might like to continue with it next time.
  2. When kids are engaging in difficult behavious it is even more important that we make the time for attachment focused play.
  3. It can be challenging to do this in busy households and when you have more than one child. Planning and looking at how you can free up time for each child individually will help make it possible.


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