All parents know it’s important to give time to their kids. But with work and sometimes multiple kids in the house, creating quality time can be difficult.
That’s why NewsCenter16 is kicking off a campaign we hope will help parents make the most of the time they have with their kids – whatever time that may be.
Child Psychologist Dr. David Botkin has some helpful advice for helping children develop.
“The best time is interactive time,” says Botkin. “It's time where the parents and child are actually having a dialogue, it's not just sitting and watching a baseball game, it's playing a baseball game together.”
Instead of just asking what they did at school today, which most of us can attest gets the answer "nothing," Botkin says take it a little deeper.
“Ask some more specific questions or tell them what you did at their age,” he said “…be a good listener. Let the kid decide where to begin the conversation. You can ask some probing questions but let the kid take to conversation where it needs to go and then be a good listener.”
In addition to being a good listener, Botkin says parents should also strive to be available, show empathy and be a good role model.
Even ten minutes of availability a day without distractions can create good communication habits. Showing empathy means tuning in to your child’s feeling and letting them know you understand. And children learn by example, so being a good role model is vitally important.
And when we're talking to our kids he says grilling them will not open the lines of communication.
“We should not be interrogating our children in ways that make them uncomfortable,” said Botkin.
Botkin says it's important we talk to our older children about our beliefs and it's also good for families to reminisce.
“I like the idea that children have access to how their parents think,” he said.
And more than anything, we need to make sure that our children understand that we care about them even during those times when we can't spend time with them.
“So if you have to disappoint a child and you can't go to the school play or you can't spend the time that you had promised make sure you take 5 or 10 minutes and sit down with the child and explain why you're in a dilemma and why you can't be with that child,” Botkin explained.
Botkin says those in depth conversations, whether about bullying on the playground with a smaller child, or peer pressure or sexuality with an older child, are considered quality parent-child time.
Finally, Botkin says to look for the positives.
“We are always trying to catch our kids being bad, we should try to catch our kids being good and point out those positive aspects,” he said.
You can watch for “Give Kids Time” stories and updates periodically here on NewsCenter16 and at GiveKidsTime.com.
Dr. Botkin has recommended some websites from the American Academy of Pediatrics with more ways to improve family communication and also have some fun.
We have links to those sites on the Big Red Bar.