5. Plan a regular block of time every day or every couple of days after school to do an activity WITH your child.
Do something individually with your child, that doesn’t involve homework or getting ready for school or for bed every day. Even just 5 minutes a day together, without the use of electronic devices, can really help strengthen the parent-child relationship, as children often really look forward to it as part of their day.
It is even more difficult for working parents who often do not get home until 6 or 7pm at night, however this makes 5 minutes together even more valued. You might choose to spend this time doing something together for 5 minutes before you start the dinner and bed routines. Or you might choose to spend it just before bed, engaging in a ‘quiet time’ activity. Some examples are reading a book together, working on a puzzle or research a topic that might involve looking up information on the internet. It doesn’t really matter what the activity is, it’s more the fact that parents do it TOGETHER with their child, and not simply direct them to go and do it while they do something on their own.
The research shows that the strength of the parent-child relationship, called attachment, is enhanced with small blocks of time, from 1 to 5 minutes, spent engaging positively with children on a regular and predictable schedule – at least once per day and at a similar time of the day so children learn to expect it. The more you spend these brief blocks of time engaging with your child, the more your relationship will develop with them! And it’s also a good way to help reduce the frequency and intensity of challenging behaviours, as connecting more with a child can only help to reduce the anxieties or emotions underlying their behaviours.