You want to be the best parent for your child, and yet, daily work demands seem to be endless!
You feel a sense of guilt as you are not spending enough time with your child.
Frustration may set in as you unsuccessfully strive to balance all your duties and responsibilities.
So what is a modern caring parent to do?
Rest assured that the total amount of time parents spend with their child has no effect on how children turn out in terms of their academic achievement, behaviour and emotional well-being.
What is more important is quality parent time, such as reading to your child, sharing meals, talking with him or engaging with him one-on-one, which will result in positive outcomes for him.
Do note that quality time is specially allocated and significant time spent with loved ones, where your full attention is given to them, while quantity time is the total amount of time spent together.
Modern lifestyles have made it harder for families to spend any kind of time together.
Parents are busy juggling work demands and house chores, while children have to deal with school and tons of extra-curricular activities.
So, how can we make each interaction a quality one?
Parents who spend more quality time with their children gain a better understanding about them.
Knowing a child’s character and temperament helps parents identify emerging problems.
When their children seem different from usual, parents can take the appropriate steps to address these concerns.
Merely being together without actually trying to connect with your child does little to strengthen the parent-child bond.
Parents should therefore focus on converting their quantity time to quality time.
Here are some strategies to make the most of your time together:
- Keep distractions away
The “omnipresence” of digital gadgets, particularly smartphones, distracts us from paying full attention to the person in front of us.
This often happens when you keep reading emails or news while having meals with your child.
Make it quality family time by putting away your devices and actually engaging with him, instead of your apps.
- Daily routines can be special too
Appreciate every little bit of time you have with your child, so you can connect with her.
This applies even when you are driving her to school, taking her to buy groceries or doing other routines.
A golden opportunity arises when she wants to tell or discuss something with you.
Pay as much attention to her by minimising other distractions and really listening to whatever is on her mind.
- Chores will be more fun
Doing chores together as a family will make it easier for everyone and build stronger bonds within the family.
You could wash the dishes, prepare food together or get the children to pack their own school lunches.
It is also a wonderful opportunity to teach them life skills.
- Create a weekly family tradition
It could be something simple like a movie night or a boardgame night, depending on your family’s interests.
You could prepare a themed dinner, e.g. pizza night, together and encourage the children to prepare toppings of their choice.
These activities will impart long-lasting memories that will always be cherished.
- Support your child’s interest
Instead of signing him up for activities that he is not interested in, ask him what his preference is.
When given a choice to pursue his own passion, he will be happy to spend time practising.
Also, be sure to allocate your time for his practice sessions, classes or performances.
Your presence is a sure way of showing support.
- Celebrate special events
Include her and ask for her opinion while planning a special event.
Birthdays or anniversaries are a great opportunity to spend quality time with the family and have fun together.
It does not have to be a fancy or big outing – a simple dinner and a birthday cake at a nice restaurant can be very memorable.
- Have one-on-one chats
Find a calm time to talk to each of your children alone.
Sometimes it is easier for them to open up and relate their concerns to you this way.
This will also strengthen your personal relationship with each child.
A special note to fathers: Research indicates that fathers are as important as mothers for their roles as caregivers, protectors, financial supporters, and most importantly, models for social and emotional behaviour.
You may spend less time with your children compared to their mother, but make the most of every interaction.
As parents, by striving to make the most of every moment that you have with your child, you are also teaching your child how to be good adults and wonderful parents themselves someday.
Show your children how important your time with them is, and you will build stronger relationships and create a warm and loving home to return to at the end of the day.
Alexius Cheang is a behavioural psychologist. This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme in collaboration with expert partners. For further information, please email email@example.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
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