14 Tips for Filling your Child’s Attention Bucket

14 Tips for Filling your Child’s Attention Bucket

By: Occupational Therapy Family Services, LLC

Do you find that your child’s normal behavior includes whining and tantrums?  Do you find it to be a constant battle through the day?  Children may just be looking for attention.  If we schedule in times during the day when we are attentive to our children, they will be able to regulate their behaviors better.  Children will develop and grow more skills when they have a full bucket.  Here are some ideas that we use as moms to fill our children’s buckets.   

  1. Be fully attentive during meal times

Mealtimes are one of few routines that are repeated daily. Slow down and make the meal meaningful by adding conversation and story time. Be present and take time to listen to what you child is saying. Take time during dinner or supper to discuss your child’s day — the positive and challenging aspects. By doing this you can help build your child’s self-esteem and fill their bucket.

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2. Make bath-time fun

For small children, bath time is often their favorite part of their day. Take time to sing songs, play games and blow bubbles. Bath time is a great way to practice fine motor skills and manipulation tasks by dumping and pouring of water and playing with toys.

Here are some perfect toys for bathtime fun.

Toddler bath time toys

Fishing bath time toys

For older children, help them get into a routine of gathering the items needs for the shower/bath and help them pick out their favorite scents for shampoo and body wash. Check out the paradise fruit bath salts below for your teenager.

Paradise Fruits Bath Salts

3. Read books together

Reading books will help establish a connection and bond with your child. Often times as parents reading books gets pushed to the end of the day right before bedtime. However, try reading books in the morning before starting the day or after dinner before the start of the bedtime routine.

4. Watch your child play

This is one of the most important bucket fillers for children. Sit and watch your child play and participate if invited. Listen to what they are saying and pay attention to their imagination. Sit free of distractions – no cell phone, no laptop, no books or magazines.

5 & 6. Have mommy and me time and daddy and me time each week

This is my favorite time each week. Take 45-60 minutes and focus only on your child. A good child-date is child led as much as possible and engaging. Here are some great date ideas.

Getting Ice Cream

A trip to the park

Grocery Shopping with the child assisting

Reading books at the library

Eating at a resturant

Going for a walk

Going for a bike ride

Painting a Picture

A trip to the bakery for a special treat

Have a picnic in the park

Children really look forward to this special time. Throughout the week you can remind your child how you are looking forward to this special time. Once again be free of outside distractions such as work, cellphone and the computer.

7. Go on nature walk around the neighborhood

Fresh air is good for everyone and can be refreshing. Take a walk around the neighborhood while chatting about the trees, the colors, the stones that can be seen. 20-30 minutes of outdoor time has tremendous benefits for the body and mind.

8. Have a family game night

Having a weekly game night gives everyone something to look forward to as well developing a connection while working on social and fine motor skills.

Here are some of my favorite games for younger children—-

Animal memory game

Hoot Hoot Owl




Hungry Hungry Hippos

Here are some of my favorite games for older children—





Phase 10


9. Take Five

Take 5 minutes to check in with your child. I love this time and so do my children. I take this time to be free from the worlds distractions and ask them questions. What was their favorite part of the day? or How did you overcame a challenge? or What are you looking forward to today or this week? By devoting 5 minutes to listening to your child you can help fill their attention bucket.

10. Together in the kitchen

Cooking together builds connection, self-esteem and is engaging. Have your child help measure, pour and stir. A few easy beginner recieps for cooking with your child include muffins, pancakes and chocolate chip cookies. Maybe your child can even lick the spoon if you are making chocolate chip cookies.

11. Your child the teacher

What hobbies or activities does your child participate in? Do they like to build with legos or do they participate in karate? Ask your child to teach about their interests. Pay attention as your child explains and demonstrates. Then try it with the help of your child. This activity helps create confidence in their personal skills.

12. Crafting Together

Making art together is a great way work on confidence and connection. Creating works of art through imagination and supplies is a great way to fill your child’s attention bucket. Don’t forget to display their creation.

13. Take them on a special errand

Are you running to the store for milk or maybe just running to the bank. Invite your child along for some one-on-one time in the car. Use the travel time to have a conversation and connect to your child. This car time can be used to play a game like I-spy or to sing songs.

14. Have a “YES” day

Have you heard about this? A Yes Day is exactly how it sounds. You say yes to your child. As parents we spend a lot of time saying NO. By spending the day saying YES you will create a deeper connection with your child and will probably find out that you automatically say NO a lot. Before diving into a whole day maybe start with a Yes morning or afternoon. It is important to lay boundaries with your child prior to initiating a YES session. A YES Day empowers your child to make decisions, problem solve and figure out creative solutions. This day or half day is sure to create life long memories while filling your child’s attention bucket.

Hopefully you have found some inspiration for filling your child’s attention bucket. What will you do today to fill your child’s bucket?  Please post below some more ideas for all of us to share!


Occupational Therapy Family Services, LLC

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