Family Time

Contents


HOW CAN WE FIND FAMILY TIME:

Family Rituals and Traditions


FAMILY JUMP IN PUDDLE

Family Rituals and Traditions are an important way for us to connect with our children. Traditions tie us to our past, gather us in the present and carry us into the future.  Hearing stories about Silly Aunt Sally and Funny Uncle Fred help children feel that they are part of a bigger whole, something bigger than themselves. It helps them feel like they belong.

 

 

 

 

If your family has few traditions or rituals, we would suggest that you find some now! Below you will find all kinds of ideas from parents who have shared these important traditions in their lives:

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Research


 Research in numerous studies tell us that our TIME is the greatest gift we can give our children.

Importance of Family Time on Kids Mental Health and Adjustment to Life

 

The goal of every parent is to raise a happy and well adjusted child. There are thousands of books which provide information and advice on raising children successfully. Experts in their respective fields strive to give parents the most up to date information whether it is about health, nutrition, child development, education, or parenting. However, one simple truth is often overlooked: Children from birth to adulthood need time and attention from their parents. Sometimes parents become so anxious to raise a “successful” child that they overlook the importance of spending time interacting personally with their child or children. This does not mean rushing from school to extracurricular activity to supervising homework. Interactive time is that spent with both child and parent fully engaged in an activity together. The importance of this time is multifold: 

  1. The child feels important and loved.
  2. He or she has an opportunity to model parent’s behavior.
  3. The parent can observe and learn about the child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to better guide them.
  4. The child has a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings.
  5. The parent and child develop a stronger bond.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has developed a program called “Building Blocks for a Healthy Future” that is focused on the importance of family in reduce the incidence of emotional and behavioral problems in children and focuses on starting this process as early as age three. They report seven steps to a healthy parent-child relationship which highlight the importance of spending time with family to foster communication, provide positive reinforcement, role model, teach social skills, and to bond. The website can be accessed as follows: http://www.bblocks.samhsa.gov/

It is apparent that the goal of spending quality family time is to love, understand, and develop your child as a happy, well-adjusted, and contributing member of society. But what if the relationship between parent and child is unhealthy? Innumerable studies reveal several negative outcomes when the child or adolescent does not receive the right love, attention, and guidance from his or her parents.

For example, a new study has been published in the Journal of Family Issues, led by Brown University sociologist Gregory Elliott. This study shows that adolescents who believe they matter to their families are less likely to threaten or engage in violence against family members.

The concept of “mattering” is that an individual believes they make a difference in the world around them. According to the study, mattering is composed of three factors – awareness, importance, and reliance. Do others know you exist? Do they invest time and resources in you? Do they look to you as a resource? Elliott asserts that mattering is the fundamental motivation in human beings.

The data for this analysis comes from telephone interviews with a national sample of 2,004 adolescents, age 11-18, as part of the 2000 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Controlling for age, gender, race, religiosity, and family socioeconomic structure and size, the findings reveal that failing to matter to one’s family increases the probability of violence, whereas a strong feeling of mattering is likely to protect the adolescent from engaging in violent behavior toward a family member.

The article Quality of Early Maternal-Child Relationship and Risk of Adolescent Obesity in the January 2012 issue of Pediatrics (which was published online in December 2011) reveals that the quality of the emotional relationship between a mother and her young child could affect the potential for that child to be obese during adolescence. The researchers analyzed data from 977 participants in the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, a project of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The sample in this national study included diverse families living in nine U.S. states whose children were born in 1991. As part of that national study, trained observers assessed child attachment security and maternal sensitivity by documenting interactions between mothers and their children at three time points: when the children were 15, 24 and 36 months old. Maternal sensitivity refers to a mother’s ability to recognize her child’s emotional state and respond with comfort, consistency and warmth. Using these assessments of maternal sensitivity and child attachment security, Anderson and colleagues developed a maternal child relationship score. The researchers calculated the body mass index (BMI) of the children using their heights and weights measured at or near age 15 years. Children were considered obese if their BMI scores were at or above the 95th percentile on those charts. Accounting for children’s gender and birth weight — two of several factors that also can influence the quality of the maternal-child relationship and risk for obesity — children with the poorest quality early maternal-child relationship were almost 2 ½ times as likely to be obese as adolescents than were children who had the best relationships with their mothers.

Multiple studies reveal that children are much more likely to develop emotional and behavioral disorders when they receive inadequate or poor parenting and each study uses the foundation of spending quality time with children as the first vital step to successful parenting.

Activities that will promote happy and healthy children are innumerable and don’t have to be expensive or difficult to access. The key is to give the child your full attention and vice versa. Here are some suggestions to get started.

  1. Family meal time. This could become a family event from the selection of the menu, preparing the food and table, serving, eating together, and cleaning up. During the meal, children and adolescents can be encouraged to talk about what is interesting to them, and not necessarily the usual topics like school and work.
  2. Homework. If parents can spend positive time with their children without conflict, this can be a good bonding experience where the school work itself is just a means to the end.
  3. Sports. Whether it is playing catch in the yard, going to the gym, or watching the child play or perform, active and positive involvement is rewarding.
  4. Hobbies such as drawing, crafts, collecting are great fodder for conversation.
  5. Board games and cards allow for the family to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
  6. Extracurricular activities such as Girl/Boy Scouts, 4H, or the debate team, can be a great opportunity for bonding.
  7. Religious activities.
  8. Shopping with the family can make a simple chore an event.
  9. Attend a concert or show together.
  10. Go to the theater, watch television, or rent movies. By watching some shows your child enjoys, you will learn more about him/her and can use the topics brought up for more interesting discussions.
  11. Outdoor activities such as hiking, walks, bicycling, picnics, or camping.
  12. Attend school events together.
  13. For younger children, get in the habit of reading to them. For the adolescent, ask what book they are reading and then read it yourself. In both cases, engage the child in a discussion about the book.

In summary, family time should be a fun and enjoyable way to raise healthy and happy children that love and feel loved. Then the child will know that “matter” and this will be reflected in their life choices.

From the Child Development Institute at: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com

 

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Something to Think About


HOW ADULTS ARE STEALING AMBITION FROM KIDS

I visited the home of a friend of mine just after he’d coached another season of little league baseball. His son, Jacob, plays first base on the team. He is ten years old. As we were talking, my friend suggested to his son that he take me up to his room to show me the trophy he’d just won. Upon walking into his room, I was stunned. The room was filled with trophies and ribbons. It reminded me of the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York…only bigger. (OK—I admit, I’m exaggerating a bit). But, awards were everywhere. When I asked Jacob how many championships he had won—he looked blankly at the wall and said, “None.”

I soon discovered, every one of his awards was simply for playing on a team.

I realize this experience may not sound new to you. We are raising a generation of kids who are used to receiving recognition for participating. It started back in the 1980s, when moms and dads were determined to boost their kids’ self-esteem and encourage participation over conquest. I understand that; I am one of those parents. But I believe this works when a child is five; not when they’re ten or eleven. It has backfired, and we’re now reaping the consequences of this decision. I know a kid who gave the trophy back to his dad after the ceremony. He said, “This doesn’t mean anything.” These kids are not stupid. But I wonder if we are.

Reflect for a moment on the long-term impact of this kind of world. When a child gets to swing at a ball until he hits it (there are no strike outs), when coaches decide not to keep score (there are no losers), and when everyone gets an equal award in the end (we are all equal), it can begin to de-motivate kids, especially boys. It takes the steam out of their engine. They begin to think: Why try? I’m going get the same reward whether I put out any effort or not. And it’s easier…put out no effort.

This is not just about sports either. Adults so wanted these kids to feel special, we began to take away the possibility of failing a class. Students always seem to find a way to negotiate a grade or do some extra credit work to make up for failing to do what they’d been asked to do. Many parents have removed the possibility of failing at home; kids still get money or perks even if they failed to share the responsibilities around the house. As a result, college staff and faculty are reporting the comments that incoming students are making to them:

By wanting our children and students to be happy, we may have created the most depressed population of kids in recent history. By leading them in this way, we have all but removed ambition in them. We have most certainly diminished it. Below is the reason why this philosophy has holes in it:

As their possibility of failure goes down, so does their value of success.

Think about it. If I grow up in a world where almost everything has been given to me, or made easy—I start feeling entitled to it. In fact, I stop trying hard, because I know, somehow, an adult will insure I get what I need or want.

One of the most valuable commodities we can cultivate in this emerging generation of kids is ambition. By this I don’t mean selfish ambition, or some self-absorbed preoccupation. (Narcissism may or may not motivate a kid to try.) I am speaking of the internal drive to achieve and to grow. The motivation to excel in an area. Further, it is a motivation that comes from serving or adding value to others.

I feel most valuable when I add value to other people.

Self-esteem is not something we can conjure up with a few affirming statements, or by giving them a ribbon just because they’re pretty or showed up on time. It comes from them knowing who they are intrinsically, and using their gifts to contribute to a cause greater than them. I firmly believe ambition is part of the equation. Ambition builds self-esteem and vice versa. When I feel good about myself I tend to try harder. And when I try harder, I tend to feel better about myself.

So What Do We Do?

Here are some ideas for cultivating ambition in kids:

1. Let them fail, but when they do, interpret the failure with them.

Don’t rescue them, but if they fall or fail, talk it over. Show them it’s not the end of the world and is not a reflection on their identity. It is a chance to try again.

2. Tell them stories about your failures.

My kids love to hear me talk about my past flops, failure and fumbles. As we laugh together, they think: Wow, if you did that and still made it…there’s hope for me.

3. Help them put their finger on something they really want to achieve.

Goals are important. They are targets to shoot for, and either hit or miss. Once you identify a goal, help them create a plan to reach it.

4. Establish rewards that only come as they work hard and make progress.

Separate the idea of merely “showing up” from putting out effort. Big difference. Set a reward that they can get only if they really excel.

5. Discuss your ambitions and how you felt when you accomplished them.

Once again, it’s the power of stories. Talk about an ambition you had years ago, and how you felt when you pursued it; how rewarding it was inside to earn it.

6. Communicate your love and belief in them, regardless of what happens.

Love should not be a reward for performing. Caring adults must demonstrate belief regardless of their accomplishments. This is a solid foundation for ambition.

From Dr. Tim Elmore - founder of Growing Leaders 

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