Engage, Encourage and Praise

Engage, Encourage and Praise

Spend undivided time with each child

Take a Spanish-only grocery store outing together and let your child build their food vocabulary. Bike ride to the park and identify tropical flowers en route. Concoct that power ball snack of honey, oats and peanut butter.

With frenetic modern life, many parents struggle to balance work and family life and feel guilty as precious childhood rolls onward. But whether working full time or staying at home with the children, create meaningful one-on-one time with children to boost their confidence and development and foster independence. Try weaving quality time into daily routines and also planning monthly (or quarterly) excursions, according to family logistics, budget and interests.

A Whole New World: Take a literary journey together--and prep your child for academic success. Scholastic advises to seek out the most convenient time early or late and stash a book in the car or bag to read while waiting for that doctor appointment. With older kids it suggests to discuss a news article over dinner and let them express their opinions. "It is important to carve out one-on-one time with your child to bond and develop a deeper relationship. Reading together will spark new conversations about a variety of topics," it says.

Play Every Day: The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends to creatively find time to play every day with your little one.  And let them pick an activity. Remember, it's not about countless hours together but "how you choose to spend that time that truly matters." "Connect with your child in ways that make sense for your lifestyle and relationship. Each connection has lasting impact and provides the support and reassurance that your child needs."

Lemonlimeadventures.com offers 20 quality time options such as live theater outings and kid-planned family movie night. Actually play with your child at the park and "be the one to organize the hide and seek game."  Ask them the highlight and lowlight of their day. Raisingchildren.net.au suggests enlivening everyday chores like bringing one child each week along for grocery shopping and let him make decisions. Or help your child prepare a meal and learn life skills. Also consider slipping out of work early for that spontaneous excursion, which can make a memorable break from routine.

Gift of Presence: For the daily grind, verywellfamily.com advises to set aside 10-15 minutes for each child at a set time in their daily schedule (or twice weekly!). Time with older kids might simply involve talking about their friend-related issues. For younger kids join in their block building or invite them to exercise super powers to help you tidy up. But always keep it positive with words of encouragement like "that's a great imagination you have."

"Giving them individual attention is key to helping you develop a healthy relationship. It can also help kids to feel loved and it may help them build self-confidence. Make sure you're mentally present when you're with your child. Put your phone away and give your child your complete attention," it states. 

Raisingchildren.net.au notes that spending time together allows you to better understand your child's dislikes, worries and frustrations and to listen and give advice. "When you and your child spend enjoyable time together it can help your child feel happier and more relaxed. It can also help your child build resilience for the teenage years. That's why it's so important to lay the groundwork early on and some regular special time with you can help your child to handle the times when they don't have your full attention or when you're apart."