Water Play is a Wonderful Way to Bond!
by Lynn Louise Wonders
At birth, babies are comprised of nearly 80% water! Humans have a very special relationship to water. Did you know that water is the only substance on Earth that is found naturally in three different forms? Of course, we know that water can be solid in the form of ice, liquid and when heated forms steam. Of course the form we enjoy and utilize the most in daily life is the liquid form!
It is our nature to interact with water on a daily basis. We wash our hands, we shower or bathe, we drink water, we cook with water. Fredrich Frobel believed children develop their understanding of themselves, others and the world around them through sensory exploration and creative expression (Early Childhood Today, 2000). Water play is an important part of that process.
Early childhood education experts acknowledge that water play is a child’s natural way of learning and developing social and cognitive skills (Dodge, Colker, & Heroman, 2010). It stands to reason that a parent can introduce water play to increase the connection and enhance the secure attachment shared between a parent and child. Water play is a wonderfully fun and easy way for a parent and child to experience joyful bonding time together.
It’s important to note that a parent should always closely supervise a child’s water play, never leaving a young child in or near water unattended.
7 Ways for parents to bond with infants and toddlers through water play:
1. Bathtime is a great time for water play! The bathtub or even the kitchen sink is a natural place and time for playful bonding and water exploration. As you wash your little one, you can introduce small cups and scoops, pouring and creating gentle warm water falls down your baby’s body. Wringing the wash cloth and exploring the way the water runs through your infant’s fingers can yield fascination and connection.
2. Create a water play station. Set up an area on a tile floor or on a tarp with shallow bins with an inch or two of water along with floating and sinking objects, funnels, and a turkey baster and join with your child in exploring the ways water can move and how some objects float on the surface while others sink to the bottom. Experiment with different temperatures and textures. Set up one bin that has water and ice and another with warm water and suds.
3. Listen to the sounds of water. Encourage your young child to play listening games by tuning in together to listen to the sound of the water dripping from the faucet, or the sound of the lapping of the water when stirred in the bathtub. Listen to the sound of the rain on the windows and the roof; to the sound of a babbling creek on a nature walk or the sound of the ocean’s waves at the beach. Install a water feature in or outside of your home with the soothing trickle and flow of a little water fall.
4. Watch a waterfall. If you are fortunate to live near mountains where there are waterfalls, a field trip may just be in order! Meander down a mountain trail to the foot of a waterfall and witness the majesty of the rushing water together.
5. Visit a park for water play. Many public parks have large fountains where you and your child can dip your fingers and make wishes with coins. Some parks offer areas with water spouts and sprays that come up out of the ground for hot summer days.
6. Wash the dishes together. I have such fond memories of standing on a stool at the big farmhouse sink with my grandmother when I was very young dipping my little hands and arms into the soapy water on one side, feeling for the plates and cups and then helping them be rinsed in the cool water that ran from the tap on the other side of the sink. You can bond with your young child by including her in the washing of non-breakable and safe dishes after a meal.
7. Revel in the rain. Instead of seeing rain as something to avoid, dress yourself and your child in rain boots, a slicker and a rain hat and go play in the rain! Feel the rain drops together, splash in the puddles and dance around together in the soggy grass listening to the squishy sounds of your boots on the wet earth. Watch how the rain drops are caught on the leaves of a bush.
Water play is a wonderful way to help your child’s social, somatic and cognitive development along with enhancing your parent-child connection and bond!
Lynn Louise Wonders is an early childhood specialist, licensed as a professional counselor, providing parenting training, play therapy and family therapy services in private practice as well as professional continuing education training, supervision and consultation to psychotherapists who work with children and families. Lynn also is a certified and registered yoga & meditation instructor, aromatherapist and has been teaching relaxation and self care methods to adults and children since 1995. She is the Director for Wonders Counseling & Consulting and Wonders Wellness Institute. www.WondersCounseling.com and www.WondersWellness.com
Dodge, D. T., Colder, L. J., & Heroman, C. (2010). The Creative Curriculum for Preschool: Interest areas. Washington, D.C., Teaching Strategies.
Early Childhood Today Editorial Staff. (2000). Pioneers in our field: Friedrich Froebel – Founder of the first kindergarten. Early Childhood Today 15(1), 63.