Many parents feel guilty because they think they should spend more time with their kids. It’s not surprising, given that today’s parenting culture suggests that parents need to spend a lot of time with their children.
Along with the belief that you should spend many hours with your kids, there is also the belief that the time spent together should always be special. Marketers have realized how to exploit parents’ insecurity that they are not doing enough special things with their children. They will try to convince parents through advertising that their products or services will help them get quality time with their kids, whether it be through vacation resorts or expensive family recreation products.
Although it may be thought that spending more time with children would lead to increased self-confidence, there is evidence to suggest that this is not always the case. Further, this time spent with children does not necessarily make them feel more loved or provide academic advantages.
It is important to spend one-on-one time with your kids. This will help you develop a healthy relationship with them. It may also help them feel loved and build self-confidence.
And while there’s no right or wrong way to spend time with your child, here are some strategies that can help you carve out one-on-one time for each of your kids:
Aim for Quality Over Quantity
It is better to spend ten minutes with each child individually while waiting in line at the grocery store, rather than five hours in the same room using separate electronic devices.
Dont worry about being physically present for hours on end. Instead, make sure youre mentally present when youre with your child.
You should put your phone away and give your child your complete attention. By doing this, your child will feel valued and loved.
Make sure you’re giving your undivided attention to your child, making eye contact, and having a healthy exchange while you’re together, no matter what activities you’re doing.
Research and Evidence
A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that the amount of time children aged three to 11 spend with their parents has no measurable impact on their emotional well-being, behavior, or academic success.
The study found that quality time with a mother was far more important than quantity of time during a child’s younger years. Active engagement was shown to have a positive effect on adolescents, who exhibited lower levels of delinquent behavior when spending more time with their mothers.
A 2016 study that focused on fathers published in BMJ Open found similar results.3 Researchers found that it was the father’s joy of parenting that was linked to fewer behavioral problems in school. The quantity of time a father and child spent together was much less influential on a child’s behavior.
Schedule 15 Minutes Every Day With Each Child
You can use this time to talk together, play a game, do an activity or just read together. Even if your child is very young, this regular time spent together can make a big difference in your relationship. If your family’s schedule is busy or highly structured, you might find it best to set aside 10 to 15 minutes to spend with each child. This time can be used to talk, play a game, do an activity, or just read together. Even if your child is very young, this regular time spent together can make a big difference in your relationship.
Try to schedule some quality time with each child every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. It is beneficial to plan your time according to everyone’s schedule and their biological clocks. For example, a child would benefit from some individual attention in the morning before school, or a child may appreciate some quality time right after school, or even before bed. Try to schedule some quality time with each child every day, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.
Choose a time to spend with your child every day, and mark it on your daily schedule. Your child will quickly learn when to expect their time with you.
Rotate Times or Be Spontaneous
If the idea of scheduling your one-on-one time together sounds too rigid, try being more spontaneous instead, or take turns spending time with each other.
After dinner, spend some one-on-one time with each kid. Let them take turns, or base it off of what everyone has going on each day.
There is no single way to give your kids individual attention that is universally better than all other ways. The most important thing is to find a approach that works for you and your family.
Do your best, and be flexible. If you’re struggling to find time to spend with each of your children individually every day, try not to worry. You might only be realistically able to do this a few times a week, or even just a couple of times some weeks. Do what you can and be flexible.
Join Their Activities or Invite Them to Join You
You and your child can spend quality time together without having to do a formal activity. Just join in on whatever your child is doing, like playing with blocks or coloring a picture. You can also invite your child to join you while you’re doing something else, like cleaning the kitchen or going for a walk.
It is important to make sure that your interactions are positive and healthy. You should not force them to do things they do not want to do. If you make a child who does not want to help you prepare a meal, clean the house, or run errands, it is likely that the time you spend together will not be very good.
If you have a child who enjoys helping out with chores, you can turn cleaning the bathroom into a bonding experience. Just make sure that you don’t turn it into a dreaded chore.
One-on-one time with your older kids might just involve talking. You might spend a short amount of time going over your child’s day, talking about their friends, or discussing a topic you’re both interested in.
Plan Longer One-on-One Times
It’s also a good idea to spend some one-on-one time with each of your children every month. This quality time could be anything from going out to eat together to playing in the park.
Families can decide how often to have weekly dates. Some families may only have time for longer one-on-one times quarterly. Its important to consider what is reasonable for your family in terms of timing, budget, and logistics.
After asking your kids what they would like to do with you during your time together, another option is to include one child to go with you to run a regular errand, such as Saturday breakfast and grocery shopping. This would rotate each week so that each child gets a turn.
Listen to Your Kid
It is important to your child that they feel important to you. A good way to show them that is by being interested in their thoughts. “Turn off the electronics and focus on what your kids have to say,” says Morin. “Talk to them, ask their opinions about various topics, and show them that their thoughts and ideas are important to you.”
Have Fun Together
It’s not necessary to turn every activity into a learning opportunity or competition. Instead, find ways to have fun together. Morin recommends playing games, being silly, and spending time together without a specific purpose, saying that this is the best way to bond with kids and show them that you prioritize them.
Hug Them More
It is very important to say “I love you” to your child, but you should not underestimate how physical touch can also help to reinforce the loving bond you have with your children. “Even for teenagers who may not come and ask for hugs as often, they still need that physical reassurance—just like adults,” says Peg Sadie, a psychotherapist and self-care coach. “Make the effort to hug them each and every day as much as possible.”
Go For Small Gestures
You don’t have to be the lovey-dovey type to show your kids you love them. Morin suggests leaving notes for them in their lunch, offering praise, giving high fives, or saying kind things about them in front of other people. “Your actions speak louder than words when it comes to showing how much you care for them,” she insists. “They will feel loved when you go the extra mile for them or when you say positive things about them.”
Create a Special Routine Together
Bedtime doesn’t have to be a battle. You can turn it into a cherished ritual by spending some quality time with your child every night. This can be something as simple as reading their favorite book together or making cookies. Whatever you choose to do, make it special for each child and do it every night to make it into a cherished routine.
Include Your Kid in Family Decisions
Children should have a say in big decisions like where to get take-out for dinner or whether to relocate. Asking for their input shows that you value their opinion and that they belong.
Keep Structure in Your Home
Children need consistency to thrive. This means maintaining the child’s bedtime, mealtimes, wake-up time, homework schedule, and extra-curricular activities, according to Fran Walfish, Psy.D., family and relationship psychotherapist, and author of The Self-Aware Parent. The more stable a child’s life and routine are, the more they will feel secure and loved, and the less anxiety they will suffer.
Pay Attention to All Your Kids Equally
If you have two or more children, you will need to put more effort into making each child feel loved, secure, and important. Here are some tips on how to do that.
First, support your children’s individual talents and pursuits and don’t compare them to each other. Show your children that you value their interests, even when they may not be things you can relate to.
It is important to spend time with each child individually every day. This is a time when you should pay attention to your child and be present with them.
Realize Family Dynamics Matter
The way you interact with your spouse can impact your child more than you may realize. Kids learn about relationships by observing their parents. Showing affection and love towards each other will teach kids how they should treat family members. It’s important to be a good role model since children watch everything you do.
Understand Material Things Don’t Equate to Love
According to Morin, kids prefer your presence to your presents. Morin urges parents to think back to their own childhoods and consider what they remember most. Morin suggests that parents think about the life lessons they want their kids to learn and the type of memories they want to create with them.
Support Your Child Even When They Slip
“Even if children make a mistake, they need to know they are loved,” said Laura Gerak, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Express that you’re proud of them for taking responsibility and then use the opportunity to discuss the situation and pose these questions: What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?”
According to Dr. Gerak, by not intervening when your children make mistakes, you are sending the message that it’s okay to make mistakes and that they are competent to fix them. This also builds their confidence, since they are finding ways to fix their mistakes rather than having someone else do it for them.