Life is a series of memories, and bonding with your child assures that he will have happy memories. With schools back in session and cooler temperatures moving in, here are a few simple fall child-centered activities that require active listening and help you take time to be present with your child. Listen to him actively when he has something to say, by repeating back to him what you hear, assuring him that you’re with him… that you are paying attention. Child-centered activities includes some “we time” with your child, whether it’s going to a movie, a museum, out to lunch, or just playing with his favorite doll or car. Take the lead from your child and be sure to give him some options. By investing him in child-centered activities, your child will be seen, and feel valued and validated.

  1. Make a crafts box. With younger children, you can use crayons, craft paper, finger paint, and water colors. For older children oil paints, modeling clay, scissors, pencils, and colored pencils. There’s nothing like creating something new regardless of your age and this is an activity that you can really get into with your child.
  2. Take a trip. Whether it’s to a park, a historical site such as Williamsburg or Gettysburg, an amusement park, or a visit to grandma and grandpa’s house. Time alone with mom and dad that has adventure all over it is both stimulating and exciting and will be remembered forever.
  3. Try planting something and watching it grow. Children love to see something start as a seed and end up as a fruit, vegetable, or plant. And there’s nothing more fun than putting your hands in the dirt and bringing up something from nothing. In fact, gardening can lead to a business enterprise as children sell the fruits and vegetables they’ve grown in their garden patch.
  4. Reading and bedtime stories that are child-centered become interactive bonding experiences. Allow your child to ask questions and engage his imagination by asking him to give a different ending or insight to the story.
  5. Dinner time can be a wonderful time for serendipity. Go around the table asking each child, and mom and dad, to participate by sharing something good that happened to them that day. This adds to the intimacy of a family and puts you in touch with what is going on in your child’s life.
  6. Story time, as opposed to reading, by sharing your childhood experience, your history, and your child’s history with him. This type of story time can be a wonderful bonding experience. By anchoring your child to his past, you are connecting him to the traditions he will engage in his future. Writing stories and sharing them with one another leads to putting on plays for family celebrations and outings.
  7. Share a special place that is close to your heart, such as your favorite park or beach. By spending quality time with your child, whether it’s hiking, biking or swimming, you’re intimately connecting while also having fun.

In the final analysis, bonding is about being together because you want to be. All of these experiences are both fun and valuable only when they are heartfelt. So, while you’re building memories for your children, remember there will come a day when you reflect back and find that you’ve built happy memories for yourself as well.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.