Make Individual Time for Your Kids, Not Just Group Time
Being a dad to four kids of varying ages, temperaments, and personalities is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to bits. However, back when I was new to this fatherhood gig, I didn’t realise how demanding it would get.
I used to think spending quality time with my kids only meant having the occasional family dinner together or piling everyone into the family van for a weekend of camping in the woods. We all had a great time but as time went by I realized my younger son wasn’t as outgoing as the rest. He was pretty content to fade in the background and let his siblings steal the show.
I realised just how little I knew about him when his teacher called me to school one day. I was surprised to learn that my son was great at drawing and painting. What’s more, he wanted to enter a competition and according to his teacher, he had a great chance of winning. I was stunned! This was a whole new side to him that I had no idea existed.
On my way home that day, I vowed to make a few changes in my parenting style. I wanted to get to know each of my kids better and the best way to do that was to start spending individual time with them.
So I started going on one-on-one dates with my kids, at least once every month. I let them pick out what to do as long as no electronics were involved. Sometimes, I cook dinner or prepare breakfast with one of them or run errands about town with another. When hanging out, we mostly talk. I ask them about their lives, find out if they’re worried or upset about anything and they also get to ask me about myself.
Once they learn that you’re genuinely interested in them and what goes on in their lives, your kids will trust you enough to share what’s in their hearts.
I have to say, spending time with my kids individually has brought us closer together and I couldn’t be happier. While I do give them space to be alone, especially the older ones, I have noticed that they look forward to hanging out with me.
Here’s why I recommend making quality individual time for your kids:
It’ll strengthen your bond
Spending one-on-one time with each of your kids allows you to get to know them. You can focus on them without having your other kids compete for your attention. Once they learn that you’re genuinely interested in them and what goes on in their lives, your kids will trust you enough to share what’s in their hearts.
It might help cut back on attention-seeking behaviour
Kids usually resort to acting out in a bid to catch their parents’ attention. However, if they see that you’re available and willing to carve out time for them, such behavior might not develop in the first place. Additionally, if you have teens, spending time with them individually might help you catch the early signs of teen depression and help you to offer genuine support and a shoulder for them to lean on.
It helps quieter, shyer kids to open up
Quiet kids, like my younger son, often get overshadowed by their more outgoing siblings. Making time to hang out with them allows them to open up and come alive in a way they never could when they’re with the rest of the family.
It shows them that you care about their likes and interests
Allowing your kids to pick out activities for your time together communicates that you value their hobbies and interests. This makes them feel special and loved for the unique individuals they are.
No matter how old they are, your kids will always appreciate spending time together with you. Make this a regular thing in your family and watch as your relationship flourishes.