Quickly, when was the last time that, as a family, you participated in activities with your child? If you took more than 10 seconds to respond, make plans to have fun spending time together with your child today.
Parents today spend more time with their children than in the past. In 1965, mothers spent an average of 54 minutes a day caring for children, but in 2012 that number was 102 minutes.
Family time is quality time and important for the bonding experiences that connect parents with one another and their children. It keeps parents in the ‘loop’ of their children’s lives. Beneficial to parents and their child are the opportunities to communicate concerns, work through problems, as well as have fun. Similar to play therapy, family time can be therapeutic.
Play therapy essentially uses fun activities, like coloring, playing with dolls, to connect with children, helping them work through issues. Talking while playing is perceived as non-threatening or probing, but rather naturally flowing honest responses-either verbally or through the activity itself. Children, through play, tend to spell out their interpretations of events in their lives. We must be attentive to this discovery.
Family time together serves the same purpose, though usually not designed to problem-solve. Time spent with children is actually proactive and preventive rather than reactive. Even if this time together is but 15 minutes a day or one hour a week positively focused on your child, outside of mealtime, it is beneficial and time well spent.
Time spent with children helps build confidence, teaches social-emotional literacy, and supports better communication. It says to children that they matter and are loved. Parents are interested in them, their lives, and enjoy being with them. These all build self-esteem and make a child less susceptive to engaging in risk behaviors and making poor choices.
Leading to superior school performance, children who openly communicate with their parents tend to get better grades. According to the American College of Pediatricians, children also exhibit better behavior. When teens spend more time with their parents, they are less likely to skip school or get into trouble with the law.
Benefitting both child and parent, leisure can be an effective way to both cope with stress and protect against stress’s negative health impacts.
Stronger family bonds result from doing something relaxing or enjoyable with your child. Just as couples benefit from sharing fun activities, families need fun too!
Families can work on projects together and share the sense of accomplishment with the finished product. You’ll be surprised at the ways children of all ages can contribute to tasks you may consider too complex or advanced.
Play together. Whether it’s a board game like Monopoly, playing tag outdoors or grabbing a Legos set, having fun with your family is satisfying. Children’s eyes light up when a parent spontaneously jumps into a double-dutch rope, or goes onto the basketball court to take a few jumpshots[my favorite].
Experience nature together. Children have better mental and physical health when they are outdoors. Outdoor experiences are the best way to experience ‘shared risk’. Just take walks around the neighborhood.
When you feel frightened and experience it with another person,you are more likely to share a special connection with them. Things like taking a ride on a roller coaster can be times for shared risk. When you experience it with your child, your child gets through them more successfully. Face a fear and add a new life experience.-together with the family.
Put away your smart device, and tear your child away from the video games for a bit and engage in some person to person fun, exploration and great talk. Have fun. Get out and play. The family that plays together, stays together!