The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 5: Quality Time
The parent-child relationship is ever changing and ever growing. As children become their own individuals, it can be difficult for parents to know how to continue to connect with their children. According to authors Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, there are 5 love languages that children express, as discussed in their book “The 5 Love Languages of Children.” Throughout the past few weeks, I have discussed two out of the five love languages. The first love language, physical touch, can be explored in the articles “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 1” and “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 2.” The second love language, words of affirmation, can be read about in “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 3” and “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 4.”Today, I will be discussing the third of five love languages of children, quality time.
Quality time is undivided attention that a parent gives to a child. This means that the parent and child are interacting with no disruptions and no distractions.
As infants, children naturally experience a lot of quality time with a parent. From being fed a bottle to having a diaper changed, these small interactions greatly impact the bond between parent and child. As children become older, and thus more independent, it can be difficult for parents and children to experience quality time together. Parents are often busy with work, taking care of children, and/or engaging in household tasks. Let alone parents are people too, and often have their own emotional stressors. Children can also be busy, between school, homework, spending time with friends, and after school activities, it may feel that there is no time left in the day for quality parent-child interactions.
Even if it feels like there is no extra time to spend together, quality time is important. For children, the message is simple - when adults spend time with them, they hear, “You are a priority and I enjoy spending time with you.” When children feel ignored or that parents are too busy for them, the message they receive states, “You are not as important to me as this phone call/email/task.”
Often times, children will engage in various behaviors to obtain the attention of a parent. Even if it is negative attention, it is better than no attention, and the behavior will continue. Therefore, problematic behaviors can begin to occur for a child who is desperately trying to gain the attention of a parent, even if that attention is through a parent yelling or lecturing a child.
While providing a child with quality time, it is essential for parents to engage with the child on his or her developmental level. For example, if a child is learning to crawl, a parent can sit on the floor and engage with the child. If a child is playing in the sandbox, a parent can sit with them and play in the sand. If a child is interested in baseball, play catch together. If a child is interested in dance, practice with them. There are many ways for parents to engage in quality time with a child.
If there are siblings in the home, it is important for parents to spend equal amounts of quality time with each individual child. It may be difficult to find time to spend one-on-one time with one sibling at a time, but it can be done. Look for gaps or areas in the day that could be filled with some quality time. Engage in a conversation with a child while dropping him or her off at a friend’s house. Cook breakfast or dinner together. Talk about the child’s day after school. Help the child with homework. There are a lot of moments in which a parent can spend quality time with a child - look for these moments and engage.
Tune back next week as I discuss Tips and Tricks for how to spend quality time together and for examples of what that might look like.
If you have enjoyed reading these blog posts but are having difficulty implementing these suggestions into your own life, seeking therapy can be a wonderful way to receive individualized treatment to review parenting styles, parenting stressors, or even your relationship with your own parents. From individual therapy, to couples therapy, to family therapy, there are many options for you to explore you and your family’s goals. For more information, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services or contact us to schedule an appointment.