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Kids Need Quality Family Interaction
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A busy schedule can prevent many parents from sharing personal time with their children, but quality time can be slipped into many day-to-day activities.
Dr. Louise Davis, Extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, told parents not to put off spending quality time with their children.
"Quality time needs to top every family's agenda. Whether it is a whole day or 10 minutes a day, parents need to set aside some time to spend with their child. The smallest interaction between family members can strengthen that family's relationship to great degrees," Davis said.
The summertime often presents children with long days of inactivity and boredom. For many adolescents, this restlessness can result in experimenting with activities that are considered destructive. Davis said one way to prevent this type of harmful behavior is for parents to become more involved in their child's life by spending quality time with them.
"It could mean everyone sharing a meal at the dinner table instead of in front of the television set. You could also plan a family yard day where every family member could participate in taking care of the lawn," Davis said. "There are many outdoor activities like fishing, camping or picnicking that you could do with your child. Even the simple act of turning off the radio while driving can allow some good conversation time."
According to an article in USA Today online, a study conducted in May found that the average mom spends more than two-thirds of her day chauffeuring her children to activities. The nation's top parenting experts say that car time can be the perfect opportunity for good, open communication between a parent and a child.
"Communication is the key to a healthy relationship with your child," Davis said. "Parents should take the proper steps to become aware of their children's whereabouts at all times. Know who they are spending their time with and what they are doing. However, parents need to be able to recognize when they should respect their child's privacy."
An online article printed in the Denver Rocky Mountain News covered this year's Columbine High tragedy and said the average child spends 30 seconds in meaningful conversation with their parents daily.
Provide children with positive choices for daily activities to help strengthen their development during times when they are unavailable.
"Children need to be involved in activities that enhance their physical, emotional and mental development. This could include any type of sports, 4-H clubs, day camps or even a volunteer activity which could allow your child to give something back to the community," Davis said.
Most importantly, though, parents should stress the importance and the benefits of spending some family time together.
"Even though children sometimes are reluctant to spend time with family, in the long run they will appreciate it. With children it is often the little things that make a difference," Davis said. "Your presence, a smile, or just a listening ear shows them just how much they are loved."