At The Catalyst Center, we greatly understand the importance of attachment, not just between child and parent but also between child and grandparents, extended family, and other loved ones. In our mobile, modern day world, we often live far away from family and loved ones, or travel for work can take us away from family. These days, many of us are sadly unable to visit in person, whether because of distance or illness. Forming close relationships while being apart can feel especially challenging.
These days, many families have found ways to utilize video communication such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. These forms of communication can be a very good way for families to maintain relationships and foster attachment. A common problem for parents is getting their young child to engage in these calls. A way to make online calls even more appealing for children is to incorporate the use of hand puppets! Stuffed animals can also work, but I prefer hand puppets because they have the ability to be more animated. Have every family member pick out a different hand puppet. Then, use that hand puppet every time you video chat with the child. The child can also have their own puppet if they want to. Sometimes children are shy about interacting on video and may find it easier to do so via a hand puppet.
The puppets can read stories, sing songs, or play games with the child over video chatting. Or the puppet can tell stories about what has been happening at the loved one’s house. The child will start to associate the puppet with the family member. Then, the next time a visit is possible, have the puppet accompany the person when reuniting with the child. The child will remember the puppet with the family member and all of those good times and will be so excited to see the puppet and the family member! It can help to “break the ice” and alleviate some of those overwhelming feelings children may have when seeing a loved one they have not seen in a while.