We all know about time-outs: sending children to their room or removing them from enjoyable people or activities. But how well do we practice time-ins, which helps to reinforce good behaviors?
Why time-ins and quality time?
Quality time with parents provides many benefits to kids. An important thing to remember is that quality really does matter over quantity for outcomes— it’s not necessarily how many minutes you spend with your children, but that you are present and make the time matter when you’re together.
Research suggests positive quality time with parents results in a number of positive outcomes, including strengthening the parent-child relationship, fostering communication, improving behavior, and decreasing later risks in adolescents for both mental health and health outcomes. You are also modeling positive relationships for your children and helping them understand the importance of being engaged and consistent.
Start with these ideas for time-ins:
Snuggle. Be generous with your hugs.cSit close to your kids while reading or coloring together. Give them a backrub or a little caress.
Give compliments. Tell your children how glad you are to be their parent...how well they shared…how hard they worked on something. Praise their efforts and tell them that you love them.
Make the most of quality time. Set aside special time for each of your children and make the most of it. Get away from screens. Hang out with your kids without making demands or giving advice. Let your child choose an activity for you to do together. Play catch, take a walk, play board games, go window shopping, bake cookies. These bits and pieces of time are often what children remember most.
Show interest. Find out what your children are thinking or doing during pretend play. Ask about their hopes and dreams. Attend their sporting events. Be available to listen without always being the’answer person.’ Ask questions that provoke conversation: “What do you think about (teacher/book/famous person/news event)?”
Give unexpected, thoughtful gifts. Give gifts that convey, “I was thinking about you,” such as a pack of life savers, a funny greeting card, a little note in the lunchbox. Look for ways to connect with your kids without spending a lot of money.
When should you use time-out?
Time-out has gotten a bad rap in the media in the past. However, the concerns noted in the Time magazine article are only problematic if you’re not practicing appropriate time-outs. Time outs are to be used when you think your child (or you!) need a break and are overwhelmed, or when a child does something purposely wrong.
They are to be short, controlled periods that end with parent and child resuming a good connection, a short discussion if appropriate to the age, and return to the normal day. Time out can certainly be useful if used appropriately, as described here in Nemours Parenting Tips. Time in, or quality time focused on your child, can certainly help stave off the needs for frequent time outs!
More ideas about quality time
Make it a goal to spend half an hour a day of quality time with your kids! Watch the differences in their attitude and behavior, and make an effort to give more time-ins than time-outs in your home!