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Posted by Maya Chivi
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Crumbs of Time

Between work, play dates, grocery shopping, cooking, and everything else, what does it really mean to spend quality time with kids when parenting is a 24/7 job in itself?

Throughout the years, I have been fortunate enough to work with children and youth in several countries. Regardless of where they’re located, I’ve seen differences in the ways kids grow happy and healthy or distant and disconnected from their families. Studies indicate time and again at the significance of a strong emotional attachment to primary caregiver(s) on brain development. Yet many children continue to struggle from what I describe as “affection deprivation”.

Every child reacts to their need for love and positive attention differently. Some kids become increasingly withdrawn from their parents, others exceedingly clingy when they do spend time together. Parents may see their young ones have more temper tantrums or may seem more dependent and frustrated when trying to accomplish tasks alone. Older children may suffer from low self-esteem and seek attention in unhealthy ways, such as developing detrimental friendships, relationships, habits, or addictions.

So how do you raise children to be emotionally fulfilled and not deprived of love, affection, or emotional attachment so they don’t go looking to fill these needs in unhealthy ways? Quality time and unconditional love go a long way. Time spent together doesn’t have to happen for hours on end. But it does require your attention, for you to truly be present, and to actually be there with your kids without constant interruptions. It means asking open ended-questions so you can get to know them (and vice versa), respecting their opinion, playing, laughing. Children will learn to come to you with their struggles when communication in your relationship remains open. Unconditionally loving children can be conveyed by listening without criticism, and, surprisingly, passing less judgment on others. Few children will feel safe opening up to their parents about an issue they’re facing when they’ve heard their own parents talk negatively about others in a situation similar to the one they’re facing. Maintaining a trusting, open, and love-full relationship with children does not develop overnight, but it’s most certainly easier to maintain one that was formed at infancy than when they’re in their teens.

So with 18 in mind, whether you’re a stay at home parent or working full-time, try giving your little ones more quality, less crumbs, of time.

Happy parenting!

Maya

 

N.B.: 18 in Mind is a blog about the day your kids turn 18 and the parenting years in between!