Special time together: why it’s good for your child
Spending special time together with your child is good for your child’s development and wellbeing. That’s because it builds your relationship and boosts your child’s confidence. Special time with your child is a chance to:
- give your child your full attention and send the message that they’re the most important thing to you
- see the world from your child’s point of view
- find out more about your child’s likes, dislikes, worries and frustrations
- give your child some guidance, talk to them and listen to them
- be a role model for your child.
Time spent with you can help your child feel happier, be more relaxed and build resilience for the teenage years. That’s why it’s so important to lay the groundwork early on.
And some regular special time with you can help your child to handle the times when they don’t have your full attention or when you’re apart.
Special time together: why it’s good for you
Sharing special time can be great for you too – it’s your chance to be a kid again and just have fun.
You’ll also feel good about being close to your child and staying up to date with what’s happening in your child’s life.
Special time with your child can happen while you’re doing everyday things like folding the laundry. Or you can make time to go for walks together, play board games and so on. Just sharing happy experiences helps to build your relationship with your child.
Everyday activities to do with your child: ideas
Sometimes you can make special time and have fun as part of your everyday family life. Here are some ideas:
- Make a special after-school snack together.
- Go shopping for food or groceries together and let your child help to make decisions, pay for things and have conversations with shop assistants.
- Make car trips fun by playing ‘I spy’, ‘spotto’ or ‘Who can see the next car with a number plate that makes a word?’ You could sing along to music together too.
- Read books or tell stories with your child at bedtime.
- Point out things that you know your child likes as you go about the day, and talk about these things with your child – for example, a cool car or a beautiful tree.
Play activities and games to share with your child: tips
When it comes to play and your school-age child, try to let your child choose what to play or take the lead with play. You’ll soon find out what your child enjoys or what sparks their imagination.
Here are simple ideas to get you started:
- Play word games and make up jokes and riddles together. You can start with jokes like ‘Knock knock’ or ‘Why did the chicken, frog, cow (whatever makes you laugh) cross the road?’ Then get your child to make up their own.
- Chase, wrestle or roll around together. This kind of rough-and-tumble play can help your child learn how to be strong without hurting.
- Play board games like ‘snakes and ladders’, dominoes and simple card games. This helps your child learn to take turns and play fair.
Outdoor activities to enjoy with your child: tips
Outdoor play is fun, and it’s good exercise too. Here are ideas for getting outside with your child:
- Make time to go to the park together – walk or ride a bike there, if you can.
- Give your child the chance to practise skills and get better at things like climbing and catching a ball.
- Lie on the grass and look for shapes or animals in the clouds.
- On a dark, clear night, go outside and look at the stars.
If your child misbehaves during ‘fun’ activities
Even when you’re doing something fun with your child, they still might behave in ways you don’t like. For example, your child might complain about the game you’re playing or demand to go home because they’re bored.
Children behave in challenging ways for many reasons. If your child misbehaves, try to work out why they're acting up. For example:
- Are your expectations realistic? For example, maybe a game is too hard, or your child can’t concentrate on it for that long. You might be able to keep a game within your child’s ability by adjusting the activity or guiding them through it.
- Is your child getting tired or bored? If it’s a long outing, your child might have had enough. You might just need to try something else, or it might be a sign to stop the activity and try again another time.
- Does the activity suit your child’s temperament? Some activities suit different temperaments better than others.
If your child misbehaves during time together, you could use it as a chance to guide your child towards better behaviour or help your child learn to calm down. It can also be an opportunity to help your child learn and practise a new skill. For example, you could show your child how to fold a t-shirt, catch a ball or do a collage.