Whether it’s taking time to watch your children learn to read, enjoying the great outdoors or finding a few minutes to snuggle up together, parents love to spend time with their children. Children equally love and deserve this type of quality attention as they grow. Although time seems short once we become parents, there are ways to get the most out of it. Jessica Minahan offers these four practical tips:
Here are 4 great tips to maximize quality time with your child.
“Every parent is pulled in a thousand directions. Multitasking has become a way of life and there never seems to be enough time to spend with our families. A child who wants your attention will resort to any kind of misbehavior to get it. They’ll whine, cry, hit a sibling, pull the dog’s tail, open closets and drawers that are off-limits, or just stand in the middle of the room and scream. As we’ve all experienced, even the most perfect little angel can turn into a first-class imp when you’re on the phone or visiting a friend. It happens because when your child wants your attention —which is most of the time—they’ll resort to anything to get it.
Children often complain they don’t get enough personal interaction despite your best efforts to spend time with them. There’ll never be enough time in the day, but there are some ways you can get the most out of the time you have to spend with your kids. These tips will help them realize they can get your attention without creating mayhem, and will make the time so memorable that you will get “credit” for spending time with them and will hear less complaints.
1. Label the Time
Put a name on the time you set aside for your child. Call it “Special Mommy Time” or “Jake and Daddy Time,” and your child will remember this time is just for him. When you’re busy you can say, “If you look at your book for a few minutes, it will be Special Mommy Time and we can play with your puzzle!” or “Count to twenty three times, very slowly, and it will be Jake and Daddy Time.” Children can take parent time for granted, and this type of labeling helps them register the special time and feel attended to. It distinguishes it from other times that parents and kids spend together, such as car rides or bath time, which parents think of as sharing time together, but children may not.
2. One-on-One Time
If you have more than one child, it’s important to spend one-on-one time with each. It doesn’t have to be more than chasing them around the yard, going for ice cream, playing a board game, or watching a video together. Parents of twins find it works well to split up at times: one child goes to the park with Daddy while the other goes downtown with Mommy or auntie. Each twin feels special and has stories to tell the other about their adventures. Parents report peace often reigns for the rest of the afternoon once they’re back together.
3. Out of the Ordinary Activities
Children are creatures of habit and routine. They expect things to be familiar, so it becomes a special event when you do something out of the ordinary. They think it’s great fun to switch the sheets and sleep in the opposite direction or have a pillow fight. Or you might let them decide what the family will have for dinner one night, no matter how unusual it is. It’s okay to have waffles, pickles, and pizza once in a while! This helps give the child a sense of control and everyone can have a good laugh. If you can’t come up with something, ask the children what’s the silliest thing they could think to do—then do it. It will surprise and delight them, and they will remember it!
4. Create a Family Ritual
Create a new ritual like playing a board game every Friday night or have a picnic lunch with a tablecloth spread on the living room floor. Set a specific movie night or plan to go to the zoo on the last Saturday of every month. These are the fun family activities that kids will look forward to, and they will create lasting memories.
These tricks will help you reduce some of the attention seeking behaviors, allow your children to feel attended to and engender a sense of fun and family you can all feel good about.”
If you enjoyed Jessica’s post, you can read more from her in the book, “The Behavior Code“
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Her particular interest is to serve these students by combining behavioral interventions with a comprehensive knowledge
of best practices for those with complex mental health profiles and learning needs.