Parents who have school children may find it useful to agree family meetings where the whole family gathers and talks about issues which have to be dealt with. It is fundamental that everybody understands that one member's problem is not his/her personal problem, but a family problem which is the reason why all family members should participate in dealing with it. You do not have to be an omnipresent parent. Support should be provided when necessary and it is important that the child knows s/he can count on you.
School holidays offer opportunities for more family time and for the parents to improve positive communication and relationship with their children. Many parents, thinking about planning activities and fun for their children, may feel the approach of holidays is stressful. Some international studies show that about two thirds of children see quality time different from their parents. Parents who are very busy may think that cooking or watching TV in the same room is quality time with their children. From children’s perspective, quality time includes direct and undivided attention of their parents. We believe that it should enable talking about significant issues and practising useful shared activities.
Sometimes it is difficult to decide when is the ‘right’ time to spend with your children. The more grown up they are, due to their school and extra curricular activities, the more difficult it is . Parents often expect their children to be happy when they have planned special family events and activities, but it is not always the case. Apart from shared activities, quality time with children includes quality communication, too. Taking time to talk with your children is important in building an open and honest relationship, and it also creates an atmosphere where children can feel free to take up various issues. Talk to your children, but also remember to listen to what your children have to say. Foster your children’s curiosity and interests by asking a lot of ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ questions. This helps children in learning how to express their thoughts and feelings. Let your children talk about themselves, about what they like to do and about their worries. This will help in creating the atmosphere of trust and acceptance.
10 tips how to improve the quality of communication between your children and you:
1. gather round the table and enjoy family meals – family members can exchange information; this is time when parents can listen, offer advice and support to their children;
2. read to your children – research show that it develops interest in knowledge acquisition and stimulates language development in children. It also enhances attention, concentration and curiosity in children;
3. do household chores together – sharing household chores is a very productive way of teaching children responsibility. Doing them together with your children helps them understand the value of team work and good communication;
4. help your children with their homework – parents’ willingness to help reinforces children’s interest for school and better academic achievement. Regular visits to the library are an inexpensive and good way of spending time with children;
5. take up a family hobby – activities like cooking, making things, fishing or cycling are an excellent way of spending quality time with your children;
6. play – parents should choose social games with their children over long hours of watching TV programmes;
7. plan occasional family outings – prepare a picnic, visit the local park, go cycling, walk in the forest, visit the zoo or the museum;
8. initiate family physical activities – both strengthening the body and helping in building up their personality and increasing motivation and perseverance, they are very important for the development of children;
9. make a calendar of ‘family time’ – since many parents have a busy schedule, time scheduled for their children is getting lower on their priorities list. Make a calendar of planned family events together with your children. It may bring about some creative ideas. Try to stick to the plan.
Some ideas for family activities during school holidays:
· Organize the ‘Olympics’ for your family and friends. Let the children decide which disciplines will be included and let them make the medals. Hold the medal ceremony and proclaim the medallists. Celebrate at a barbecue.
· Visit the airport and watch the airplanes taking off and landing.
· Make your family coat of arms.
· Make and decorate some new and unusual cookies.
· Read about activities and events during school holidays in the local newspapers.