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How to Spend Quality Time with Your Child and Improve Listening
If you’re struggling with getting your child to listen to you, then pay attention. Spending quality time together is one of the most important things you can do to improve your child’s listening. Quality time can also strengthen your relationship with your child and help your child to build trust and self-confidence.
But I get it. Spending time with your child is actually a lot harder than it seems.
Before you had kids, the idea of spending all day playing with your child probably seemed a lot easier. But in reality, moms are busy and even getting the daily load of dishes done can take a couple hours when you have a kid wrapped around your ankles.
And besides being busy, sometimes doing what your kid wants to do can be hard. For instance, although engaging in imaginative play was once easy, it’s actually pretty tough when you try to do it now as an adult. And it can be hard to attend to another activity when your phone is calling your name.
So I have some tips to help you make the most of your quality time together. But first, let’s take a look at why you should spend quality time with your little one from a child therapist’s perspective.
Why You Should Spend Quality Time with Your Child
First, quality time can help keep your child’s “good” behaviors going. A lot of times children will misbehave when they’re bored or not receiving attention/ engagement. So you want to give your child positive attention preemptively before he has a chance to engage in bad behavior. You can give your child positive attention through praising your child, rewarding positive behavior, or spending quality time together.
Also, in order to get someone to listen to you, whether it be an adult or a child, it helps to first build a strong relationship. And relationships need continuous nurturing. Spending quality time together is the perfect way to nurture your relationship with your child.
In general, we are more likely to listen to people whom we like and respect. Therefore, whenever your child appears to regress in terms of his behaviors or whenever your relationship is struggling, come back to this step! Some continuous good-old quality time should do the trick.
How can you spend quality time with your child?
Spend at least 5 minutes each day (although 20+ is ideal) engaging in quality time with your child. Keep in mind though that quality time is most effective when you use these techniques and strategies:
- Engage in an interactive activity that your child wants to do, as long as it’s reasonable. The activity can be done at home. It doesn’t need to involve spending money.
- If all your child wants to do is play video games or watch TV, you can simply sit by him while he engages with the device. I strongly encourage trying to do an interactive activity at least once per week, however.
- Begin quality time when your child is behaving well, NOT during or immediately after misbehavior, as this will send the wrong signal.
- Try to avoid asking your child questions or giving demands, as these can interrupt his train of thought and be perceived negatively. Also, don’t try to teach your child during this time. Instead, make comments about what your child is doing or the game he’s playing. The key here is to show that you’re interested and to keep the positive interactions going.
- Pay attention to and praise the good behaviors that your child is displaying.
- If you find that your child gets fussy or acts out around a certain time each day, try scheduling quality time shortly before this period.
- If your child starts to misbehave, you can ignore it, as long as the behavior is not dangerous in any way. However, if the behavior continues, you can discontinue the activity and inform your child that you’ll resume playing at a time when he’s listening better.
- Spend quality time with your child on an ongoing basis. If you and your child have a strained relationship, it may take some time before you start to see the effects of quality time.
Having trouble figuring out how you’re going to pull off quality time because you’re so busy or overwhelmed already? Let’s problem-solve through this!
- Scheduling a time each day may help you stick with quality time more easily. You can also use a timer to help keep you on task.
- Pay attention to when you have some downtime, and use that downtime for quality time. Perhaps you have some available time while dinner is in the oven or before your child’s bedtime.
- Prioritize. Make spending quality time a priority every day. What is something you can sacrifice in order to get that quality time in? Do the dishes really need to be done now, or can you wait until after your child goes to bed to finish them up?
- Remember that spending quality time can keep your child from acting out. So by making time for quality time now, you could be saving yourself time in the long run by not having to discipline him later.
A lot of moms already do this, which is great! If your child has a hard time listening though, do this even more by spending an extra 5 minutes per day on quality time. You should always make quality time for your children, but if you’re having a hard time with your child’s behavior, beef up this step some more!
The MOST important part of spending quality time together is that you are building the relationship and getting your child to like you more. People are more likely to listen to and show respect for people they like and who treat them well.
Did you know that you could be using these extra tips and techniques during quality time with your child? And how easy is it for you to squeeze in time for your child to have your undivided attention?
Disclaimer: Although I was a therapist, I am not your therapist or your child’s therapist. Reading this post does not enter you into a client-therapist relationship with me. The content in this post is meant to be used as a general guideline and has not been individually tailored to the needs of you and your child. If you are in need of therapeutic services, please seek the support of a mental health counselor or behavior specialist.
References: My information comes from years of training on Applied Behavior Analysis, Parent Behavior Management Training, and other evidence-based techniques. I also like to refer to Russell Barkley and Alan Kazdin.