Just 5 Minutes a Day of Play

Just 5 minutes a day  of play makes a big impact! Many parents ask for simple tools or strategies to improve their relationship with their kid, increase compliance and/or what they can do to teach social skills. My favorite answer is to play! Often, we forget the importance of play in childhood, as well as the many benefits. Play is not only fun (aka relationship building) it also teaches different social skills (e.g. cooperation, taking turns, communication, sharing, etc.). Improving your relationship with your child through play will help you both- you will feel more connected, decrease stress, improve compliance, and will give you both something to look forward to everyday!

Sample Play Activities:

  • board games (Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, Life, etc.)
  • card games (Uno, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, etc.)
  • active games (Simon Says, Red Light/Green Light, hopscotch, jumping rope, etc.)
  • read a book
  • color or draw
  • craft activity
  • art activity (painting, PlayDoh, etc.)
  • building activities (Legos, blocks, etc.)
  • sports (play catch, basketball, etc.)
  • figures/figurines (barbies, dolls, action heroes, puppets, etc.)
  • imaginary play (dress up, tea party, etc.)
  • video or computer games
  • music (play an instrument together)


  • Spend a few minutes a day (5-10) in which you allow your child to pick an activity that you join
  • Use a timer (visual timers are awesome!) to help maintain the time limits, parents are often busy and have many things to do
  • Make it a daily routine and/or rewarding, such as after homework/chores are complete or before bed
  • Let them choose the activity*. Kids love it when their parents enter their world.
    *for kids who struggle with turn-taking, alternate who chooses the activity to work on this skill
  • Be present. Put phones away or any other sources of distraction/interruption. Aim to be fully present in the moment and enjoy the time with your child.
  • Be intentional in your interactions. This is the time to connect with your child. Praise positive behaviors (sharing, cooperation, turn-taking) and/or compliment and remind them how special and loved they are.
  • Avoid/minimize negative trigger words (e.g., no, don’t, stop, quit, etc.). Use redirection and tell them behaviors they should be doing instead. For example, if they are not following a rule instead of saying “don’t do…” say “remember the rules, we have to…”
  • Ignore minor misbehaviors as much as possible. Children may often try to bend the rules or push limits, I encourage parents during these 5 minutes that the goal is quality time. Therefore, try to ignore or move past these types of behaviors, utilize humor to redirect, and just let it go.
  • Address any significant misbehaviors. Tantrums, physical aggression, etc. are not acceptable. Utilize appropriate consequences such as ending play time but providing encouragement such as “Play time is over today because we do hit others. We can play again tomorrow when we will try to remember to keep our hands to ourselves.”

play doh fun


Stay tuned for future blog posts in how you can make these activities therapeutic. For an additional blog in how you can make reading fun click here. To visit our website and learn more about our educational and psychological services, click here.

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