Why Family Time Matters!
Spending quality time together with family is arguably the key ingredient for fostering strong bonds and relationships between parents and children. Children experience love firsthand during a family get together of any magnitude. Even the most simple or mundane activity can serve as the basis for creating a strong emotional bond with a child and allow for a deeper connection to take place.
Reason #1: Live longer
Research demonstrates that spending quality time with loved ones is actually healthy. According to a study from Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a strong network of family and close friends is linked to increased longevity. Parents serve as primary role models for their children.
Find time to engage in a fun, physical activity outdoors with your child. Here are a few ideas for this summer:
- Take a nature walk.
- Start a family garden.
- Plan a nature scavenger hunt.
- Take a family bicycle ride.
- Play an outdoor sporting activity.
- Go swimming.
Reason #2: Have more influence over the decisions your child makes with his/her peers
Having a strong bond with your kids allows for greater influence in guiding them to make wise decisions in different life situations. As children venture into “teen-hood”, they begin to form stronger relationships with their peers and are put in precarious situations, surrounded by pressure to engage in risky behaviors. Needless to say, adolescents who spend more time with their family are at a decreased risk of experimenting with smoking, alcohol, and engaging in substance abuse.
Reason #3: Improves a child’s academic performance
The role of parental involvement in a child’s academic performance is huge, especially in the early academic years when the child is “learning how to learn”. Parents who actively provide assistance and guidance when needed are able to help their children reach their intellectual potential. Researchers at North Carolina State University, Brigham Young University and the University of California-Irvine find that parental involvement has a more powerful influence on a child’s academic performance than the school the child attends.
Doug’s Tips for Preparing a Child for Academic Success
- Get involved in school-based functions. Volunteer for events or field trips. Attend school meetings, especially the Open House(s) to meet the teacher(s). This provides a child with the message that you care about their academic progress and will hold them accountable for their performance.
- Check homework each night to see that a good effort was put forth and that all assignments are complete.
- Prepare a child’s backpack the night before to ensure that all materials make it from home to school successfully.
- Get your child into a sleep routine. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 6-13 require between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night and teenagers require between 8 and 10 hours of sleep. However, research indicates that most children and teens are not getting enough sleep – about an hour less sleep each night than they did 30 years ago. The pervasive distractions of video games, television, and computers all play a role. Sleep deprivation can adversely affect cognitive skills and academic performance. For this reason, it is important to keep electronic devices out of the room during bedtime.
It’s never too late to spend more time together
If you are wondering where you should start if you feel you are not spending enough quality time together as a family, begin with the family meal. Keep cell phones and any other electronic gadgets away from the dinner table so you can start conversations that you would like to, or need to have with your child. Children will not, and do not, forget meaningful conversations and quality time spent together with family.
Douglas Haddad, is a public school teacher, nutritionist and the author of parenting/child guidance book Save Your Kids…Now! The Revolutionary Guide To Helping Youth Conquer Today’s Challenges and co-author of Top Ten Tips For Tip Top Shape: Super Health Programs For All Professional Fields. www.douglashaddad.com
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2015 Magazine