How to Schedule One-on-One Time With Your Children

Many parents are plagued with guilt because they believe they should be spending more time with their children. It's easy to see why. The notion that you must spend a significant amount of time with your children is deeply embedded in today's parenting society.

Aside from the idea that you should spend countless hours with your children, there is also the idea that the time spent together should always include special activities. Marketers have figured out how to exploit parents' fears that they aren't doing enough unique things for their children. Many advertisers will try to persuade you that their items or services will help you spend quality time with your children, from vacation resorts to expensive family recreation equipment.

However, there is some evidence that spending all day every day with your children does not necessarily boost their self-esteem.1 It also does not help children feel more loved or provide them with an academic advantage. We'll get into more detail later.

Of course, spending one-on-one time with your children is essential. Individual attention is essential for developing a successful connection. It can also make children feel cherished and may help them develop self-confidence.

And, while there is no right or wrong way to spend time with your child, here are some tips to help you schedule one-on-one time with each of your children:

Prioritize quality over quantity.

Spending 5 hours in the same room with separate electronic gadgets is preferable to giving each child 10 minutes of your undivided attention while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Worry less about being physically present for long periods of time. Instead, make an effort to be mentally present with your child.

Put your phone away and give your whole attention to your youngster. When you give your child high-quality, positive attention, he or she will feel valued and appreciated.

Regardless of what you're doing, pay attention to your child, make good eye contact, and engage in healthy engagement during your time together.

Schedule 15 minutes with each child every day.

One-on-one time may not occur in some busy households unless it is scheduled. If your day is hectic or overly scheduled, you may find that spending 10 to 15 minutes with each child is the ideal option.

Plan your time around everyone's schedules—and biological clocks. Is there a child who would benefit from some one-on-one attention before school? Is there a child who would benefit from some quality time after school? What about before you go to bed?

Choose a time and add it to your daily calendar. When you start committing that time period to your child, he or she will quickly understand when they can expect to see you.

Rotate Times or Be Random

If scheduled one-on-one time sounds too regimented, make it more spontaneous—or alternate who gets to spend time with you.

You may begin one-on-one time after dinner and let the kids choose who goes first. Alternatively, you may base your decision on what everyone has going on each day.

There is no correct or incorrect approach to give your children particular attention. The important thing is to choose a method that works best for you and your family.

Don't be concerned if you can't spend one-on-one time with each youngster every day. You may discover that it is only feasible to work three days a week, or you may have periods where you are unable to work at all.

Participate in Their Activities or Invite Them to Join Yours

There is no requirement for a formal activity for your time together to count as "quality time." Instead, you can assist your youngster as he or she constructs with blocks or colors a picture. You might also invite your youngster to accompany you while you clean the kitchen or go for a walk.

The important thing is to keep your interaction positive and healthy. Make them do things they don't want to do. If you force a hesitant child to assist you in preparing a meal, cleaning the house, or doing errands, your time together is unlikely to be of high quality.

If you have a child who enjoys helping with projects, cleaning the bathroom together could turn into quality time. Just don't turn your time together into a task that your youngster despises.

One-on-one time with older children may simply consist of talking. You may spend a few minutes evaluating your child's day, discussing friend concerns, or chatting about a topic you both enjoy.

Schedule more one-on-one time.

You may also schedule a monthly "date" with each child. Your date could consist of anything from dining out to playing in the park.

Weekly dates may be possible for some families. Longer one-on-one sessions may only occur quarterly for others. Decide what is reasonable for your family and think about how to make it happen in terms of schedule, budget, and logistics.

You may ask your children for suggestions on what they'd want to do with you during your time together. Another alternative is to ask one of your children to accompany you on a routine errand. For example, Saturday may become breakfast and grocery shopping day, with each youngster taking turns going each week.

How to Make the Most of Your One-on-One Time

Make your time together joyful and positive for both of you. The purpose could be to get to know each other better and to form and sustain healthy friendships.

Your relationship with your child, like other partnerships, must include positive activities together. Here are some ideas for making the most of your quality time together:

Keep the other youngsters busy. If your other children are bored, envious, or need to ask a question, they will most likely disrupt your one-on-one time. Explain to them that everyone will get a turn and that it is vital to respect each other's time. You may try giving the other kids duties or finding an activity they can do together so you can focus on one child at a time.

Recognize and reward positive behavior. Praise each other for good behavior during your time together. "Oh, I really like the way you are being so patient," or "That's a great imagination you have there," might go a long way toward making your youngster feel better.

Don't be concerned about teaching. Do not question or require your child to perform. Interfering with your precious time by asking inquiries like, "What color is that?" or "How many coins is this?" Instead, become involved or simply make good comments about what your child is doing without putting pressure on them to demonstrate their expertise.

Ignore minor infractions. Ignore everything your child does that is slightly bothersome or obnoxious. Turn away, pretend you don't hear it, and tune it out. Return your attention to your youngster as soon as he or she begins to behave. This teaches your youngster that excellent behavior, not bad behavior, gets your attention.

When necessary, use consequences. If your child intentionally smashes anything or becomes hostile, use a time-out or deprive them of a privilege. Demonstrate to your child that inappropriate behavior has repercussions, even if it occurs during your special one-on-one time.

Make one-on-one time contingent on good behavior. There will almost certainly be days when you believe your child's poor behavior does not justify quality time with you. However, those are the days when your youngster most likely requires meaningful time with you. Negative consequences, such as time-out, are only effective if your child is getting lots of time in.

Turn off all electronic devices. Although it may appear difficult, turning off your technology (or simply silencing your phone) can help ensure your youngster receives your full attention. It's important for children to understand that they are a top priority in your life for 10 minutes each day, regardless of how many business emails or text messages you receive.

Avoid using electronics whenever possible. While playing video games is somewhat engaging, search for activities that do not involve electronics. The idea should be to converse, create eye contact, and engage with one another, which is difficult to do when watching TV.

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