Improving Quality Family Time
As children get older, they often spend more and more time with their friends and away from siblings and parents. While this is a fairly normal part of adolescence, it is still important to make sure your family is spending adequate quality time together as a family unit. Time spent nagging teens to complete their homework or chores should not be considered quality time. Quality time is time in which the family interacts in a positive manner and ideally engages in an activity together.
Here are a few suggestions to improve family interactions and quality time with children and teens:
1) Family Dinner on Sundays and at least one or two other nights during the week
- Having a sit down meal together where everyone puts away their cell phone and talks about their day, news events, or other items can greatly improve the quality of family life by reinforcing positive interactions and making these interactions pleasant and enjoyable, which increases the desire of family members for more family time together.
2) Family meetings
- While parents are truly in charge of the family, periodic family meetings to address on-going issues can be helpful in order to allow children and teens to voice their opinion on items and work collaboratively with parents when possible to determine solutions to family issues. Topics that may be helpful to address at a family meeting include: keeping the bathroom clean, putting dishes in the dishwasher, not leaving shoes and other items in the front hall area, teens keeping parents up by being loud if staying up late, etc.
3) Family game/activity night
- Setting aside time to spend as a family engaged in an activity is important. Trying to find activities that the whole family can enjoy together is important. Board games can be good activities if teens are interested in playing them. Going to the movies, watching a movie/television show together, going ice skating, playing laser tag, for a walk, out for ice cream, and other similar activities can be great family activities provided that all family members are interested and willing to participate in them. Sometimes, trying something new and outside your comfort zone can be helpful for bonding as a family. For instance, if your teens love video games, perhaps see if you can find a game that you are willing to play with them and have a family video game night. Or, if your teen loves photography or video production, perhaps you could create a family photography project or short film.
Time with family is important. Once your teen leaves home, the opportunities to spend time as a whole family unit greatly diminish, and your teen having positive experiences with their nuclear family help facilitate more positive interactions in the future. Thus, use the teen years to help further develop and maintain strong family ties.
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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship, and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*