The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 6: Quality Time
Parenting is about balance. A balance between discipline and connection, a balance between teaching and learning, and even a balance between autonomy and dependence. These are some of challenges parents face when connecting with their children. I have dedicated the past few blog entries to help parents learn about children’s love languages as a means to help parents have better relationships with their children. Based on the book “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, the five love languages reveal different ways parents can connect and show love to their children based on individual needs. To learn about the previous two love languages, please refer to the following: To learn about the first love language, physical touch, please read “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 1” and “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 2.” To review the second love language, words of affirmation, please refer to “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 3,” and “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 4.”
Last week, I began to discuss the third love language, quality time. To learn more about the importance of spending quality time with your child, please read “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 5.”
Today I will continue to discuss the third love language, quality time. Below are tips and tricks to incorporate quality time into daily routines.
Tips and Tricks for quality time:
- Make eye contact - For some parents, eye contact is limited to specific moments. Some parents only make eye contact during discipline, while others only make eye contact when a child impresses a parent. It is important for a parent and child to engage in eye contact during all types of interactions, not just specific ones.
- Engage in quality conversation - For children, ask open-ended questions about their day. Ask about their friendships. Ask about school. Ask about worries, dreams, and accomplishments. Ask about everything in a non-judgemental way. As children become adolescents, it may be difficult to continue to engage in conversations, but keep asking. Learning how to communicate with a parent will extend to a child’s ability to be able to communicate in friendships and in future relationships.
- Read together - For younger children, read a story together before bedtime. Take some time to discuss what happened in the story and what the characters experienced. Talk about emotions - what was the character feeling? Why did the character feel that way? Ask the child about a time he/she felt that way. This type of quality conversation will set the child with a foundation of communication and the ability to understand his/her own emotional experiences.
- Eat meals together - For many busy families, it can be difficult to find quality time. Having a planned meal together every day, such as breakfast or dinner, can be a great way to engage with a child. If this is not possible, start with one day the family can commit to eating meals together.
- Drive together - From running errands to dropping off a child at soccer practice, drive together. This can create space for a parent and child to engage in quality conversation without the distractions that can come from the home.
- Schedule time together and be consistent - Plan to go hiking every Sunday. Have the last Friday of every month a family game night. Eat dinner together every Wednesday night. Scheduling allows a family to prioritize quality time and ensure that it occurs.
- Prepare for quality time - As a parent, it can be difficult to come home after a long day of work and be expected to provide a child with undivided attention. In order to have the emotional capacity to give time to a child, do something for yourself first. Listen to music on the way home. Take deep breaths. Make sure that as a parent, stressors from work do not interfere with the ability to be present for the child.
- Start small and build up to big plans - If promises are made then broken, a child will distrust the process and it will not work. As parents, following-through is the key to having a positive interaction with children. If you cannot follow-through, your child will not want to participate in future interactions.
Quality time is important and consistency is the key to making it happen. As a parent, if you are not 100% dedicated to your goal or plan, a child will pick up on that, and they will be more likely to disengage. Stay positive and make quality time a priority, even if a child does not appear interested. Never force a child to participate in an activity, but the more excited you are, the more the child will pick up on those emotions and want to engage too.
Come back next time as I discuss the fourth love language, gifts.
If these blog posts have been interesting to you and you would like to receive more specific, personalized information, seeking therapy can be a great way to work on parenting skills and help you connect with your child. There are multiple forms of therapy, from individual therapy, to family therapy, to couples therapy - each with its own unique perspective toward helping you reach your personal goals. For more information, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services. To schedule an appointment, please contact us.