Column: A child's most important play dateJune 8, 2021
By GRACE WILSON
Youth First Inc.
In a world that is constantly on the go and filling our family’s schedules with various activities, it is important that we take time to slow down and spend quality one-on-one time with our children.
If you have multiple children, take time to spend individual time with each one. Our attention is so often divided between many different tasks, relationships, and worries that we often forget to give devoted time to each child.
Simply carving out even 10-15 minutes a day to spend with your child will transform your relationship. This works for children of all ages, but the sooner you start implementing this time together, the more easily it will become a part of everyday life.
Create a list of activities to do together. Some ideas include going on a walk in your neighborhood or local park, painting pictures, baking a treat, playing board games or reading a book together.
When you are spending time with your child, all phones and other distractions should be put away. It is important that this time spent together is child-driven. You should let them choose the activity and engage in it with them. Let them “run the show” as long as it is something you can feasibly do.
This one-on-one time is beneficial for the long term mental health of both parent and child. Building strong personal bonds from a young age will enrich a child’s life in the following ways.
• One-on-one time builds confidence and self-esteem. When your child has additional opportunities to express themselves within a loving environment, their confidence increases. Take this time to encourage creativity, imagination, and other positive traits you see in your child.
• Your child will be more apt to open up to you. Extra time spent together gives your child the chance to communicate with you about their thoughts and emotions, good and bad.
• Children will learn to develop positive habits. Kids are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol when they have open and positive relationships with parents and caregivers. Forming healthy bonds at home can also boost academic performance and engagement at school.
Although our lives often seem hectic in the moment, the rewards of spending quality time with your children will last for years to come. These times together will feel like a special treat and provide perfect opportunities to build lasting traditions and create memories together.
Grace Wilson, MSW, is a program coordinator at Youth First Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families by providing 64 Master's level social workers to 92 schools in 11 Indiana counties. Over 60,000 youth and families per year are served by Youth First's school social work and after school programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors and maximize student success. To learn more about Youth First, visit youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.
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