Parenting

Spending Time With Your Child


Why Is Spending Time with Your Child So Important?

For children to get any sense that they are loved and wanted, you have to be prepared to spend some time with them. I know you are all thinking, so tell me something I don't know. My point in all of this is how important this really is. The term "spending time with your child" gets tossed out there fairly casually. We hear it so often that after awhile we may not take it as seriously as we should. I found myself, with all of the time I have to spend with my diabetic daughter and daily diabetes care, considering that as part of my quota of time spent with my child. In a sense it is, but it's not the kind of time that makes the relationship with your child so special. This is a difficult article for me to write because I can see some areas I need to improve in. I hope this isn't too difficult to read. There's no getting away from this simple truth. If you do not give them very much of your time, talking, laughing, playing, and sharing things or just generally being around listening to and enjoying them, how can they possibly get any other message than that they are not worthy of your love, time, and attention? How can they then progress to love themselves if they perceive that you always put yourself and others first, before them, and that they are apparently incidental to your life, even that they are a nuisance? Please note that I said "they perceive". What a child perceives is not always accurate. But to a child perception is reality. If they think this is how you feel, then to them, this is how you feel. This is why I think the time you spend with your child is so important. I know how much you love your child. You know how much you love you child. What's so critical is does your child know how much you love your child? Our children need us to be interested in them and to demonstrate our love for them by spending time with them right through adolescence.

How Do We Know that Children Need So Much Time?

- The more you give, the more they want.

- If they don't get it, they behave badly to try to get it.

Our children will need us, love us and want us more than we can imagine. We give them their sense of belonging, and security. Children can crave this so much that when it's not given naturally and spontaneously, they will behave in what ever ways they think they have to in order to get it.

Time to Do What?

Talk

Talk about your day, their day, what you are going to do, what you are seeing on the street, what they are watching on television, what they like to do, your childhood, their relatives, their toys.

Play

Sit with them while they play, and talk to them about what they are doing.

Listen

Look at their faces when they are telling you something. If it seems important to them, stop what you are doing and sit down with them to hear it.

Quiet Time

Sit with them while they watch TV (this can be painful but important) or while they are getting ready for bed.

Share

Invite them to do something or go somewhere with you, to show you enjoy their company.

These examples give us a variety of ways to spend time with our children. We can join them in what they are doing, invite them to join in what we are doing, or do something alongside them, in parallel, talking together or just being quiet together.

Special Time for Each One.

Each child in the family needs to have special time with each parent. It doesn't have to be a vast amount of time, or have to happen every day. But each of our children is different, and will want to have a chance to be alone with each of us. When you get right down to it sibling rivalry is competition for the parents' attention. Individual "special" time given to each child can lead to a lot less fighting among them.

Quality Time

Quality time is the term that was developed to meet the working parent's main problem, not being able to spend as much time as you would like at home. The idea of quality time is that it's not how much time we spend with our children that matters, but what we do with the time we have with our children. Spending quality time means giving them our wholehearted attention, and ensuring it is constructive, productive time spent actively doing things with them. It is an important concept but we need to remember it has some limitations. By considering these limitations we can make better use of quality time. The problem with this is that it doesn't take into consideration moods and feelings. Instead of doing something active, playing or going somewhere, our child may just feel like being quiet with us, curling up and just being together. This can be just as important to our relationship with our children as active communication. Another problem is that quality time is often scheduled. If we can't be there at that unpredictable moment when our child decides to tell us about something the schedule falls short. By the time we get home the need may have passed. To show that we understand and to help, especially younger children, remember that there was something they wanted to tell us, we need to have a plan in place for these situations. For older children it may be as easy as a special place for a note. For younger children we can make it into a game. They might have a special stuffed animal that they leave in a certain place to let us know there was something they wanted to share. You can invent your own system. Some quality time could be spent devising the system.

"Being there" or spending time with our children doesn't mean twenty-four-hour availability. It just means offering them some flexibility on access to meet special circumstances and listening to them when they ask for it. The results of time spent with our children is the special love and happiness in the relationship we dreamed about before we ever had them. Our children are precious. The amount of time that they are children is short. If we make good use of this short time we have, we do our jobs as parents to raise happy healthy kids.

Russell Turner is the father of a 10 year old Type 1 Juvenile Diabetic daughter. When she was first diagnosed he quickly found there was all kinds of information on the internet about the medical aspects of this disease. What he couldn't find was information about how to prepare his family to live with this disease. He started a website http://www.mychildhasdiabetes.com and designed it so parents of newly diagnosed children would have a one-stop resource to learn to prepare for life with diabetes.


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