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If You Want To Be A Great Parent, Just Do These 50 Small Things

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If You Want To Be A Great Parent, Just Do These 50 Small Things

Parenting is a tough job. Everyone wants to be a great parent, but no-one teaches you how to be a great parent – you have to pick it up yourself. There are lows and highs, and it can be tough to be the perfect parent every day. The main priority is making sure your child is happy, well-fed, loved and safe.

Check out 50 small things you can do to be an amazing parent.

1. Don’t try to fix everything. Often your child will need your help, but don’t run in to help every time without thinking. Sometimes your child will be able to solve their own problems, and letting them do so will teach them to be self-reliant.

2. Pay attention to your child’s interests so that you can help them to develop their interests.

3. Share as many different experiences as you can with your child. From sports to reading to dressing up, these experiences could turn into future talents.

4. Let your child decide what’s for dinner one night of the week.

5. Remember that discipline and punishment are two different things.

6. Read books with your child for at least a quarter of an hour each day. This is a great way to bond with your child.

7. Encourage family time. This gives your child the chance to bond with their extended family.

8. Admit when you are wrong. After a tough day you may snap at your child. Instead of secretly feeling guilty, apologise to your child to teach them about fairness and honesty.

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9. Accept that your partner may have different ideas about parenting and then make a compromise that you are both happy with.

10. Don’t pressure your child to learn. If they complain repeatedly about their violin lessons, don’t force them to go. This is only making your child deal with stress and worry.

11. Have high expectations for your child, but always remain realistic.

12. Praise your child whenever they succeed so that they know they have supportive parents.

13. Ask your child five “you” question every day, such as “Did you enjoy school?” or “Did you like your lunch?”

14. Teach your child responsibilities while they are young. From putting their toys in their toy box to putting their juice carton in the recycling, your child is never too young to become aware of the world around them.

15. Eat one meal as a family together every day. Your child may not remember each individual meal, but they will always remember the tradition.

16. Love your children equally but remember they are unique in different ways.

17. Don’t label your child. Once you do, it can be very difficult for them to grow out of the label.

18. Be silly with your child. Tell your child silly jokes, and encourage them to make up their own jokes to tell you.

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19. Listen to your child without dismissing their thoughts for being young.

20. Give your child open-ended toys like Legos or blocks. These will encourage your child’s creativity.

21. Savor the great moments. Being a parent is a wild ride with highs and lows – let yourself enjoy the amazing moments.

22. Don’t compare your child to others. They are a unique individual and comparing people is often more damaging than it is useful.

23. Encourage your child to think about their future without influencing their decisions.

24. Keep the TV in the living room. This encourages family time and provides your child with fewer distractions when they are supposed to be sleeping.

25. Keep sunscreen next to your child’s toothpaste, and put it on every morning during summer as part of the same routine.

26. Take your child to different places, like the museum, the swimming pool, the library and parks to to expand their interests.

27. Give your child gifts that encourage their interests.

28. Always put anything your child makes for you on display in your home to show you are proud.

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29. Introduce your child to your most interesting friends.

30. Give your child choices to help them to work on their decision-making skills.

31. Set aside part of your home as a play-space for your child.

32. Accept your child for who they are.

33. Tell your child that you love to play with them, and that it is just as fun for you as it is for them.

34. Tell your child stories about them as a baby.

35. Let your child help you while you are cooking to help them to develop an interest in cooking.

36. Hug your child every day.

37. Put down your phone when you are playing or reading with your child.

38. Remember that when they are a teenager, they will be potty-trained, so don’t worry too much about it to early.

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39. Don’t force your child to hug or kiss extended family or your friends if they don’t want to. They know what they are comfortable with and what they don’t want to do.

40. Keep a diary of all of the funny things your child says to show them when they get older.

41. Practise what you preach – follow the rules you teach your child to teach them about fairness.

42. Have a weekly movie night with your child. This is a cheap, easy and fun way for you two to bond.

43. Trust your gut instincts with your child – you know them better than anyone else does.

44. Get involved in your child’s education by always attending Parent’s Evening and helping them with their homework.

45. Take your child for long walks so they can experience the magic of nature while bonding with you.

46. Accept that both you and your child will have flaws.

47. Count to 10 before you react to your child’s anger or sadness.

48. Buy a joke book and tell your child a silly joke every day.

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49. Show your child lots of affection. Hold their hand when you walk together and high-five them when they have good news.

50. Speak to your children as equals and respect their opinions.

More by this author

Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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