Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Scattered Family. Close at Heart.

Grandparents on different coasts.  Aunts, uncles, cousins all spread out across the country and then it's birthday or holiday time and you have a very confused kid. Keeping track of distant family and bringing their warmth and love to a child can be tricky.  They don't know the person who sent them a present and can be understandably bewildered at the slew of names that they hear once or twice a year and often see even less often.  So, how to make those people real, recognizable, and positive... enter another playful parenting aid, Happy Go Fish.

1. Find an available cartoon picture of a fish and print about 8 rectangles around the graphic on card stock.
(This turns out to be a good size for kid hands to grasp.)
2. Find smiling pictures of family members and print two copies of each, the same size as the fish boxes.
3. Cut pictures and paste to the back of the card stock
4. Laminate and play!

We started off with pictures of our immediate family to get the hang of it.  "Do you have a happy Mommy?"
[Play with the classic rules of handing it over if you do and telling them to "go fish" if you don't.]
When you start with four pairs, it goes pretty quickly and they can delight in the making the pairs.  (No real focus on winning for little kids here.)

Once they get the hang of it, you can add more than one person in a picture.
"Do you have a happy Grandma and Cameron?"
"Do you have a happy Daddy and Uncle Brian?"

I thought this would be fun, but I had no clue how positive it would be.  My son was gleeful when he saw a cousin he had only met in picture form because he knew her and he knew her as "happy".  The smiles are important.  Seeing these people as happy, fun, friendly people from distant places adds that extra dose of love that family usually intends and it adds more fuel to a child seeing the world as a benevolent place.  There are all these people out there doing nice things for me.  The world is a nice place (benevolent universe).  I can have fun meeting new people because they are likely to be nice too.  It's been such a powerful tool and, as an added bonus, there's no reason you can't add other influential faces!  Our deck contains my son's pediatrician and preschool teacher too, both with big, happy, grins :)

Again, remembering / meeting new people is harder for kids with autism, but it's certainly a challenge for every kid as they are introduced to extended family.  I hope you'll see the same kind of joyful sparkles that this game provided for me!


  1. Great idea for a game. Thank you for sharing. We .have the same situation, with family living far away. This would be a great game for them to get to know their family better And great tie in with BUP.


  2. What a great game. Thank you for sharing.
    Global Belly Laugh Day, January 24 is about connecting, smiling, celebrating, and laughting. The celebration of the great gift of laughter is playful, easy adn fun. On January 24 at 1:24 p.m.(your local time) smile, throw your arms in the air and laugh out loud. Join the Belly Laugh Bounce 'Round the World.
    The website is filled with other activities.
    with a smile and a belly laugh,
    Elaine Helle

  3. Thanks, John. It has been such fun and I just got a picture from my sister of her new baby. Less than a month old, but we'll add him to the deck :) I actually need to update the picture of a different cousin who is now a toddler. She looks a little different than she did two years ago!

    Elaine: I certainly do enjoy a good laugh :) My dad gave me the "I Love Lucy" series and it's perfect for lunch-time-laughter.