Nothing can substitute or make up for the lack of time you spend with your child—not money, presents or the holidays. More than anything in the world, children want to be with you consistently. Of course, the amount of time from birth to when they are ready to go out in the world decreases; however, do not pull back too soon.
According to the Office of National Statistics, a typical working mother spends as little as 19 minutes a day with her children; working fathers even less. As a child’s horizons broaden, they have lots of questions about the world and they are counting on you to help them to navigate their journey. Put the questions back onto them by asking things such as: “What do you think you would do?” and “How do you think you would feel in that situation?” teaches them to feel confident in tapping into their inner wisdom and coming up with the answers, with your support.
Usually, we spend lots of time in the car with our children—a fabulous time to chat about what is going on in their world and share with them. Be warned that when you pick your child up from school, they may not want to talk to you; even though you may be eager to share in their day. This is because, while at school, children generally take on a lot of intellectual and emotional information. By the time they get to the car or are at home with you, they can feel overloaded. When my son was six or seven, as would pick him up from school and ask him about his day. One day he said to me very firmly “Mum, how many times have I told you—school is just school—it’s school!” I took the hint and stopped my questions!
Instead of taking this personally, I did some research and discovered that he actually needed that quiet time on the way home to process his day’s events. Then he was ready to talk over a relaxed afternoon tea, for example. Often, my son would ask the really big questions just as I was tucking him into bed: a little ploy to stay up a little later, I felt!
Surround your children with love in an environment that you love and with people that you love. Incorporate the extended family into their lives and give them a sense of a wider community and support. Make time to spend with family friends that support and love all the members of your family. Talk positively to them about their school teachers (if you feel positive about them), and extracurricular activity teachers.
Build a safe, secure environment for them and they will grow up with a sense of trust, believing that the world is safe and secure.
A Step-by-step Guide to Relating to Your Child:
- Listen to What They Say. Sounds simple right? All a child wants is to feel like their parents care. Keeping the communication lines open will make them feel understood and safe.
- Approach Situations without Judgement. Try and put yourself in their shoes and show compassion towards their point-of-view to the best of your ability. If they feel like they can come to you invulnerable or emotional moments, it creates a strong bond between parent and child.
- Sharing is Caring. If you know what is happening in their lives (without being too nosey) and they know what is going on in yours, it closes the generation gap. If you are across their interests and current issues, it shows you are not as out of touch as they might think. Also, sharing with them what is happening in your life makes them feel included and special. However, set a good example and avoid gossiping and rather, lead a mature conversation that appropriately expresses your emotions.
- Ask their Opinion. This makes them feel supported and appreciated.
- Make Time for them on a Daily Basis. One-on-one attention is important in making your child feel valued. Make time to check in with them. Also, set aside time to do activities together. Quality time creates memories.
Children’s years are a precious gift—share that time with them. Let them know they are number one to you and you are always there for them—no matter what. This can be done in a healthy, balanced way allowing you to have a career and a full life too; where your needs are respected and valued. Just build in time with them as sacred, and let other things work around it.
Love and time are two of the most precious gifts you can give your child.
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