With the way society has become consisting of long work hours and other commitments, it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to spend quality time together. More importantly, it has become harder for parents to spend quality time with their children and sometimes are unsure how they can build on their relationships with their children with their limited time. Here are some tips that based on the DIR Floortime (Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationships-based) strategies created by Dr Stanley Greenspan. These strategies will help your child form stronger relationships with you and increase their communication skills resultantly. The strategies below are ideal for pre-school aged children who are verbal:

  • Make sure you are at eye level with your child – often as adults we tower over children. Eye contact lets you and your child to be at the same level when playing games (building blocks, doing puzzles, doing a drawing together, water play).
  • If your child speaks to you or gestures to you, make sure you acknowledge every word! It is easy to pass over what they say but their initiation of communication is important to acknowledge. It’s important to ask them questions back and state what you have heard from them.
  • If they are feeling emotional (e.g. angry or upset) it is important that we acknowledge these feelings e.g. ‘Oh you’re feeling angry, are you? Okay maybe you need to sit on the bean bag for a few minutes to cool down.’ By showing that we care how they feel, they will feel more open to communicate with you.
  • Be goofy, remember to be a child yourself! Hide the juice they wanted behind your back. Ask them ‘Oh no, where did it go?’ Join in their pretend play activities – take out the party hats and pretend to have a party, your children will appreciate your efforts.
  • Use their interests to your advantage. If they enjoy Wiggles Songs, then make your own song ups about daily routines such as toothbrush song based on a Wiggles tune e.g. ‘It’s time for us to brush our teeth!’ This will help with participating in everyday routines but also they will catch onto your made up lyrics.
  • Don’t be a fixer/the boss in every situation. Let your child be the problem solver. Pretend that you forgot what directions are needed to head to the local park. This gives you a perfect opportunity to ask them help you with the directions.
  • Expand on their conversations. Sometimes they could be talking to you about a situation at pre-school e.g. ‘We had oranges there.’ Use these opportunities to ask them plenty of questions ‘Oh you had oranges? Did everyone have them? Did they give you any other snacks for morning tea? Did it fill you up?’ Of course, remember to take time to listen to their responses and help them expand their responses while you’re at it.


AuthorAndrea Lee Davis
Year published:2014
Book title:Floortime strategies to promote development in children and teens: a user’s guide to the DIR® model

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