By Heather Ives, Intern
Summit Counseling Services
One of the greatest gifts a parent or guardian can give to their children is the gift of time. Summer time is a wonderful opportunity to reinforce values and priorities through spending time with our children. Spending time with our children allows them to they feel supported, which fosters self-esteem and confidence. It may be hard to find time to connect with your children due to busy schedules but it has many rewards.
After the initial summer excitement wears off, children can often become agitated and bored. A parent can combat this by building structure into their day. Flexible structure gives children a sense of safety and security. It is not about the length of time spent together with your children, it is about the quality of time spent, making positive memories of healthy experiences.
Spending time with your children allows you to build a positive sense of self-worth, where children feel valued. Spending time does not have to be expensive. Activities such as playing a game, taking a walk, going to the park, having a picnic, or riding bike are perfect ways to bond. Additionally, you can give your children a sense of purpose through including them in daily tasks so that they understand they have an important role in the ultimate functioning of the household. Children often complain when given chores, but it provides them with a sense of purpose. This is essential for the entire family by balancing work and play with structured and unstructured family time. Families who spend time together form strong emotional bonds and have the ability to adapt more effectively to future crisis and situations as a family.
Children learn problem-solving skills through activities like playing a game or helping to cook a meal. These skills can also translate into other areas of your children’s lives, such as academic performance, which allows a child to feel included and more confident.
When strong family bonds are developed, children are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, and are less likely to use tobacco and marijuana. Children who frequently eat dinner with their family, typically have better physical health and improved dietary intake compared to children who do not. Parents and guardians who spend quality time with their children foster an environment for open communication, which allows children to feel more comfortable to share their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Parents and guardians can facilitate open communication with their children by asking open-ended questions.
Since children learn from example, we can set a good example by simply spending time together, modeling values, kindness, compassion, and empathy, all of which can help your child become a better friend to others. Overall, by taking a moment to spend quality time with your children and family, the family unit becomes more resilient and can rebound from disruptive life challenges. This gives the family unit the ability to cope with future stress. Let’s take a moment to unplug from our digital devices and spend a few moments of quality time with our families this summer.