• Jasandra Oeffinger, LPC

A Child-Parent Relationship Builder

Updated: Feb 13, 2019


Parents are busy, it is just a fact! In the midst of all the tasks that come with day-to-day life, remembering to be present with kiddos can be a struggle. As busy as life gets, we must find practical and realistic ways to pour into children – giving them moments of undivided attention and connection. These moments strengthen the child-parent relationship and can help improve your child’s behaviors because they will be meeting their need for attention in a positive way.

Researchers consistently associate a healthy child-parent relationship with a large range of benefits for children during childhood, as well as later in life. Let’s take a brief look at some of the benefits: an ability to cope and regulate emotions, social competence, academic resilience, and capacities to maintain healthy relationships and boundaries... good stuff!

Many parents experience guilt about the lack of presence they’ve been giving… Guilty parenting does not feel good for anyone though, so give yourself a hug and remember that parenting is a hard job. Making a few manageable adjustments can make a difference.

Now, let’s talk about one easy way to be more presentThis child-parent relationship builder was first introduced by Dr. Gary Landreth, a leader in play therapy, and has brought relief to parents and kiddos everywhere!


  • Occurs when your child is asking for attention (attention-asking shows up in a lot of ways: acting silly/disruptive, asking for help with something they may or may not truly need help with, strong need to show/tell you something, etc.).

  • Stop whatever you are doing in that moment.

  • Turn to face your child (your whole body - nose and toes!) and keep your eyes on them.

  • Stay fully engaged and attentive with them for at least 30-seconds – Set aside any other thoughts that are not related to this moment of presence.

  • ...And that’s it!

Try making it a goal to give this 30-second burst once each day!

Even on the most hectic of days, parents can find 30-seconds to provide these moments. Here’s an example:

  1. You are in the middle of a phone conversation with a friend.

  2. Your child starts asking for

  3. You ask your friend, “Can you hold for 30-seconds? I’ll be right back.”

  4. You mute your phone and set it aside.

  5. You spend the next 30-seconds being present and fully engaged.

  6. You return to your phone call by saying something like “Thank you for telling me about that. I am so glad you did. I have to finish my phone call now”.

Children are reluctant to end this type of time. You can gently remind them that you had a moment to listen to them and when you are done with your task(s), you can spend more time with them. When this is done consistently, children learn that they will have their attention needs met and will become less demanding of time.

PRO-TIP: Presence and attention feel good at any age… The 30-second burst can apply to significant others and friends too 😊

#parenting #childdevelopment #playtherapy #playtherapy

About The Author

Jasandra Oeffinger, MA, LPC is a therapist and co-founder of Human State of Mind Counseling in Houston, Texas. She works with young children, as well as adults, who struggle with anxiety, self-esteem/identity, stress, trauma, life transitions, and problematic behavior. Jasandra is also a doctoral student and conducts research on a variety of topics, with a large focus on play therapy and young children with traumatic experiences.

If you are interested in working with Jasandra, visit

Are you a teen or "twenty-something" adult in need of support and guidance? Learn more about our fellow co-founder, Stephanie Longtain, MS, LCSW and her work with tweens, teens, and young adults.

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