Throughout my career as an early childhood educator, most of my attention has been directly focused on diverse issues and or concerns regarding developmental, educational, and behavioral techniques to best meet our scholars’ needs. Those needs are diverse and fast-paced.
Therefore, I am always seeking helpful resources to share with and receive from parents. In order to have the flow of resources, we must ensure that our early learners and their families are cultivating quality time with one another.
More and more, bringing quality time front and center appears to be an ongoing battle, whether it’s life choices, lifestyles, or adverse situations. Unfortunately, these issues and concerns are greatly impacted by how our culture is forever changing and how parents respond to those changes.
Think, for example, about how we feed children various forms of “entertainment” such as media programming, technology, and even unhealthy foods that have negative effects like obesity and loss of creativity.
If this type of parenting is ongoing and becomes the norm, there is no family quality time or relationship present at all. Everyone is in a different room looking and listening to whatever it is that entertains their individual mind.
Parents are their child’s first teacher. An educator’s job is to enhance the child’s communications skills and abilities that allow them to soar. If children have not been able to spend quality time with their parent(s) or if there is detachment within the household, how will the child be capable of learning how to communicate needs or wants?
One of the most essential places to begin when looking at how to develop as an effective parent is to define goals. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?” What is it that your child wants to achieve in their life? Is it education, wealth, popularity, a better lifestyle, or a line of business?
Yes, you may be a truly wonderful parent; however, much is going on around your child, and your presence is invaluable in helping cultivate your child’s perception of their worth and success. So be clear and consistent about those goals and their achievability.
Are you walking the walk? Are some of those goals not personally happening in your own life? If not, how will you connect your child with mentors and leaders who can model those goals?
Once you set those goals, put them into motion while spending time with your child. As a parent, what you give to your child will strengthen character, self-esteem, love, confidence and, of course, a closer parent-child relationship.
Here are some basic tips to help you set goals and increase quality time with your child.
- Make time. The amount of time that a child spends with their parent matters as much as the “worth” of that time. Find daily ways to integrate your schedules and create opportunities for sharing, including the ride home and after watching a show together.
- Connect after school. Debrief for 10 minutes after the school day or when you get home from work. Have your child share what he or she did at school. Ask them what went well and what didn’t.
- Do fun things together. Find fun and interesting activities that you can do together to help plant the seeds of creativity. This includes arts and crafts, sports to build “teamwork” toward a common goal, or healthy cooking).
- Eat dinner (and other meals) together. While eating, be involved by communicating with one another without technology. That means turning off devices, including phones and tablets, for the entire meal.
- Bond with your child. Cook together. Laugh, play. Maintain eye contact, a listening ear, outstretched arms, a warm hug, and your beautiful smile.
- Open communication lines. Establish and re-establish open lines of communication. Ask limitless questions. Don’t just tell them what you want; ask and actually listen to what they have to say. What are their fears? Dreams? What makes them happy? Respond accordingly, without judgment.
- Lead with affection. Your children are sponges, so lead by example. Share affection, show affection and give affection. Demonstrate love by providing love.
- Make it special. Make sure that you give your child individualized attention. If you have more than one child, make sure each child has individualized attention. This can be something small that you do every day, like tell jokes.
- Be available for your child. We all have busy days. Set aside some time to make yourself accessible, approachable and responsible for your child. Establish guidelines, even if you happen to be engaged in a personal activity.
Spending quality time with your child can have a lasting impact on your child’s development and self-worth. Don’t overthink it, just be open to it.