We love our families and spend so much effort trying to make money to provide them with a comfortable lifestyle — but sometimes we forget that giving our kids our time is more important than providing them with cool clothes or the latest technology trends. Even for older kids — who you'd be pretty hard-pressed to get to admit that they want more attention from their parents and siblings — a good solid family hang has serious benefits.
Summer break is almost here, and it's the perfect time for some good old fashioned family bonding. Here's why you should make QT your top priority.
Children who spend time with their parents participating in activities together build a positive sense of self-worth. When children feel that they are valued by their parents, they feel more positive about themselves. Family activities don't have to be expensive or luxurious to be meaningful. Take a walk together, go for a bike ride or play a game of basketball in the driveway. The important part is just being together and enjoying each other's company.
Families who share everyday activities together as well as share vacations or daily excursions as a group form strong, emotional ties. Studies have found that families who enjoy group activities together share a stronger emotional bond as well as an ability to adapt well to situations as a family. Share your favorite hobbies, sports, books, movies or other favorite activities and build strong family ties for life.
Children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to experiment with substances like cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.
Kids who frequently eat with their families also usually have improved dietary intake compared to those who don't eat as often with family members.
Family time creates warm memories for parents and children alike. Children with happy family memories are more likely to create a loving environment for their own children when they grow up. Learning to work and play as a family unit is one of the best lessons children can be taught so they can develop into competent adults and parents.
Spending time together as a family helps busy parents reconnect with their children. Children tend to share more information about their lives while enjoying an activity with you rather than when you ask them "What did you do today?" It is also a time when life lessons, like sharing, fairness and compassion, can be reinforced without conflict. Children grow and change quickly, so family time is a wonderful time to get to know your child better.
Originally published June 2011. Updated May 2017.
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