Children, from birth to adulthood, need time and attention from their parents. The impact of personal interaction cannot be underestimated. The importance of family time has a bearing on the social and emotional maturity of children and establishes deep understanding among family members.
The role of the family can have a significant impact on emotional and behavioural issues in children. A number of studies have recommended spending quality time with children as the first step to raising happy children who will make a positive contribution to society.
The ultimate goal of family time is to create opportunities for all members of the family to love and understand each other, in the process growing happy, well-adjusted children.
The following benefits further reinforce the importance of family time:
- Fosters communication
Being together as a family creates opportunities to have important family discussions. Your children are more likely to open up to you if you’re spending quality time together away from your normal routines. Maybe they have questions they want answered or are having troubles and seek your advice. Spending time together could be all the encouragement they need to ask you a tough question they’ve been pondering on or open up about an issue that is troubling them.
- Helps build confidence and self-esteem
Spending quality time together provides an opportunity for parents to discover what their children’s strengths and weaknesses are. It also opens the door to sharing new experiences together which can help build confidence and improve self-esteem. The more opportunities a child has to experience and excel at various activities, the greater the self-confidence will be.
- Provides opportunities to role model
Parents are a child’s greatest and most influential teacher. Spending time as a family, provides parents with the opportunity to role model the behaviour that they expect of their children. It’s important for children to see how their parents cope with risks, problems and social interactions. We all grow into versions of our own parents at some point!
- Teaches children vital social skills
Good social skills are essential in adolescence. It can be challenging for teenagers to understand appropriate social behaviour and navigate sticky social situations. Spending quality time as a family allows the opportunity for children to practice social skills at home in a natural context. Playing board games together can help children to resolve conflict and come to a mutual understanding, for example.
- Provides bonding opportunities
There is no doubt that creating shared memories together goes a long way toward strengthening family ties and bonds. Trying new experiences, supporting one another and communicating are positive steps toward building healthy relationships.
- Improves mental health
When spending time together, children can voice their thoughts and feelings and seek advice about issues that have been troubling them. Participating in happy, shared experiences can also have a profound effect on mental wellbeing. Experiencing the great outdoors and enjoying positive social interactions are known to reduce stress hormones and help the body become calm.
- Helps a child feel loved
If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.
The key to spending positive family time together that will enhance positive relationships, is to give your full attention. Don’t schedule family time if your mind has to be elsewhere.
Here are some suggestions to encourage quality family time:
- Get out in the great outdoors – go hiking, take a picnic, try surfing or wind surfing together.
- Homework – sit down with children to assist them with their homework in a non-demanding fashion. Be sure not to provide the answers for them … but make yourself available to provide advice and tips that will point them in the right direction.
- Play board games – place an emphasis on sportsmanship and fun.
- Sport – watch or play sports together.
Family meal time – sitting down to eat together each night can be a great way of opening up discussion. Asking about each family member’s favourite part of their day is a great conversation starter that prompts positive discussion.
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