Make time for your child

By admin
11 December 2014

In an ideal world parents would spend lots of quality time with their children and establish close bonds with them. But these days hectic schedules often make this difficult.

We asked experts for advice and tips for SuperMoms.

FORM A BOND

It’s essential for families to spend time together, says clinical psychologist Hameeda Bassa-Suleman of Durban. “Children learn how to behave socially by watching their parents,” she points out.

“By spending quality time with your children you can model good behaviours and values which they then learn. Children feel valued and special when time is set aside during their parents’ busy day for their feelings and fears to be voiced.”

Close bonds promote trust between family members.

“This becomes important during times of distress when children are more likely to turn to their parents than their friends – if they believe their parents will listen to them and take their feelings seriously,” Bassa-Suleman says.

The closer the bond the better the communication in a family.

“Parents learn to listen to what their children are trying to express and children learn to appreciate the advice and wisdom parents have to offer.”

MAKE TIME

There’s no quick way of forming close bonds with your children. By regularly making time to give them your full attention you strengthen the bond between you, says psychologist Lomé Koekemoer of Randburg, Gauteng.

Involve your children in everyday activities, she advises. “We’re often inclined to exclude children from these things but with a little extra effort activities such as shopping, exercising, cooking and hobbies can be fun.”

Experts agree parents should have a specific time slot for family time.

“Parents need to set aside dates and times that should be consistently seen as family time. This shouldn’t be an ‘if we have time’ date but a real appointment that takes priority,” Bassa- Suleman says.

Working moms should also spend at least 15 minutes every evening chatting to their children about their day.

“Tell them you’ve missed them so they feel valued and know they belong in your world.” Moms shouldn’t beat themselves up about not being able to spend hours with their children every day.

“Remember, children value consistency. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend but rather the quality of the time you spend with them,” Bassa-Suleman says.

“A child will value 15 minutes of your undivided attention more than an afternoon of trying to catch your eye while you’re on the phone or trying to cook a big dinner.”

TECHNOLOGY

This is an indispensable part of our lives and can’t be wished away. But introduce a noscreen time slot when everyone in the family – yes, parents included! – must switch off the TV and their cellphones, laptops and tablets.

“This encourages all family members to have face-to-face interactions with one another,” Bassa-Suleman says. “Use this time to communicate and play together rather than being swallowed up by social media and all the other diversions technology offers.”

It’s parents’ responsibility to also teach their children non-technological fun, Koekemoer says. Try board games, outdoor activities such as cycling, mountain climbing, camping and games requiring imagination such as building a fort together.

WHAT CAN WE DO TOGETHER?

Let your children choose what they want to do in their special time, Koekemoer says, but preferably not watching TV.

“Quality time is different for every child and also varies depending on age.”

Here are suggestions for various age groups:

1-3 years: Activities that satisfy their curiosity and their need to make discoveries.

3-5 years: Fantasy activities.

4-8 years: Activities that teach them new skills or strengthen existing skills such as playing soccer, dancing or swimming.

Tweens: Activities that develop social skills, such as going out with you for a milkshake.

-        Suzaan Hauman

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