The Benefits Of One-on-One Time With Your Child

Spending one on one time with each of your children has positive effects on the whole family unit. Here’s why.

Parents with more than one child often say that they want to have a second or a third child so that the eldest has a “play pal’”, or that should something happen to them as the parents, their child won’t be alone in the world. However, when it comes to siblings, there is often a hierarchy and power play dynamic that can cause stress and a sense of discord to both the children and their parents.

Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist, Richard Parry, explains that while family time is important, parents should also try to spend one-on-one time with each child on a regular basis. “There are huge benefits for parents and children in making space in the schedule for each parent to spend one-on-one time with each child,” he says. “First and foremost, it can bring some welcome relief to the intense sibling rivalry that often accompanies activities where the whole family is involved – it gives the child a break from feeling like they have to compete with other siblings for their parent’s attention.”

This is important, as according to Parry, it helps the child develop a more independent sense of themself as not only one of two (or three or more) siblings in a relationship with parents, but as their own unique person with a special relationship with each of them.

So how do you do this in a way that keeps the family’s “team spirit” up as well as giving the children that priceless one-on-one time? Here are some tips:

  • Do it in shifts. Plan one family get-together for a weekend, whether it’s a family lunch or outing to a museum or event. If you have more than one kid, come up with a roster so each child gets at least an hour of you and your partner’s time over the weekend.
  • Spend unstructured quality time together. Outings, playdates, arts and crafts classes or time at the park all count, but as Kyle Pruitt says on Psychology Today, “One-on-one time need not be task-driven to be useful — often exactly the opposite.” She says that time to “chill” is often better understood by our kids than it is by us, and they are often better at it – as long as you’re fully present, with all devices off.
  • Draw attention to the fact it’s just you two. If you feel overwhelmed by guilt through not spending enough time with their kids due to work pressures, draw attention to your child that it’s just the two of you hanging out. You’ll start to notice more quality time spent with your child, and it will make an impact on your child that you’re noticing it too.

In our fast-paced, digitally connected and socially disconnected world, finding quality time for your children is a priority more than ever. Like anything to do with parenting, the more organised you are the easier it gets, and scheduling in this important time will be beneficial to the whole family unit.


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