10 Tips to Better Family Time [CLICK TO EXPAND]

Parents and their children are spending less time interacting with each other.  As a result, many children are getting less personal love and attention than their parents did. American Demographics reported that parents today spend roughly 40 percent less time with their children than did parents a generation ago.  To help families stay connected, below is a list of helpful family time tips. Keep in mind, quantity and quality time is important when choosing activities. So build memories around exciting events by keeping your family time creative and enjoyable. Print out the following tips as daily reminders.

1. Eat together and listen to each other

Most children today don’t know the meaning of a family dinnertime. Yet the communication and unity built during this set-ting is integral to a healthy family life. Sharing a meal together allows the opportunity to talk about each other’s lives. This is a time for parents to listen, as well as to give advice and encouragement. Attentive listening conveys a message that a person is really interested in another. It also imparts a sense of worth and helps develop trust. Therefore, listening is a critical link in successful parenting.

2. Read often

It’s important for parents to read to their children. The latest research indicates that reading to your children cultivates an interest for knowledge and stimulates language development. It also increases their attention spans and helps them become more curious. Look for books that your child would enjoy reading. After reading, ask questions about the content.

3. Do chores together

Part of what goes on in the home is the development of teamwork. Functional family life depends on the contribution of everyone. Assigning chores is the most productive way of teaching responsibility and accountability to your children. Doing chores with your child will help foster good communication skills.

4. Help with schoolwork

A great way to spend quality time with children and light a fire of learning is to help children with their schoolwork. A parent’s eagerness to help will cause a child to become more interested in school thus improving his or her grades. Regular trips to the library for school projects are an inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend time with children. Helping should begin with an understanding that children are responsible for homework. Parents are there to help their child get organized and to encourage them when they get stuck.

5. Start a hobby or project

Choose a fun activity that your child is interested in. Activities like cooking, crafts, fishing or biking will make great hobbies that can open the door to exciting family time. Once a child learns a new recipe or is able to cast a lure accurately, let him or her take the lead–with your supervision.

6. Play games

New technology has made video games more prevalent. As a result, many children are spending long hours in front of the TV playing computer programs. Parents should find creative ways to spark an interest in family-oriented contests such as board games or card games. This will give parents additional time to talk and nurture their relationship.

7. Plan a family outing

Sometimes getting out of the house is important. Hop in the family car and go for a drive. Prepare a picnic lunch and visit a local park. Take time to play catch or ride a bike. A stroll in the woods will help parents interact with their children. Also, a visit to the zoo or museum will spark a child’s enthusiasm and lead to lengthy discussions.

8. Encourage athletic activities

It is vital for children to exercise. Sports not only strengthen the body, but also build character and determination. Whether it’s a father pitching a baseball to a son or a mother and daughter nature walking, finding time for athletic events is important for a child’s emotional and physical development. This is a great opportunity for a family to interact.

9. Create a Family Time calendar

Since many parents have hectic schedules, time with children often becomes a low priority whether intended or not. Post a calendar on the refrigerator and have parents and children pencil in special events. Knowing when you’re going to meet may also help you think of creative activities. Commit to keeping this schedule free from interruptions.

10. Pray together and attend a church

Nothing is more special than taking a few minutes each day to pray with a child before bedtime. By explaining the purpose behind prayer, children will learn the importance of faith as the foundation for the family. Attending a church will enable children to interact with godly people and encourage them to live virtuous and disciplined lives. When a mother and father go to religious services, they instill in their children a reverence for God. Churches can also offer invaluable support to families.

2000 Family First. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

5 "Miracle Parenting Tools" [CLICK TO EXPAND]

In his book, The New Dare to Discipline (the completely revised version of Dare to Discipline), Dr. James Dobson offers advice on how to get your child to behave the way you would like them to. He says that according to the law of reinforcement, "behavior which achieves desirable consequences will recur." In other words, you should reinforce good behaviors, but not unwanted ones.

Dr. Dobson offers the following helpful guidelines:

1. Rewards must be granted quickly. "Most children have neither the mental capacity nor the maturity to hold a long-range goal in mind day after day. Time moves slowly for them; consequently, the reinforcement seems impossible to reach and uninteresting to contemplate." Give the reward soon after the good behavior for the best results.

2. Rewards need not be material in nature. "Anything that is considered desirable to an individual can serve as reinforcement for his or her behavior." Kind words have a power all their own. Don't forget to compliment your child when they restrain from unwanted behavior. In this way, you will motivate them to keep trying to please you with their good behavior.

3. Almost any behavior that is learned through reinforcement can be eliminated if the reward is withheld long enough. "It is an established fact that unreinforced behavior will eventually disappear." This works both ways. You may find that good behavior that is not rewarded will not continue. On the other hand, you may be unknowingly reinforcing unwanted behavior. If you can identify the way in which the bad behavior is being reinforced, you can consciously choose not to reinforce it. The unwanted behavior will often cease if you ignore it rather than giving in and giving the child the desired attention for it (unless it would cause danger to the child or others to ignore it.) This principle applies to most temper tantrums, which are a major source of conflict between parents and children.

4. Parents and teachers are also vulnerable to reinforcement. "Inevitably children sometimes train their parents rather than the reverse, by reinforcing certain behaviors and extinguishing others." "Parents should be aware of their own reactions to reinforcement and make certain they are in control of the learning situation."

5. Parents often reinforce undesirable behavior and weaken behavior they value. "It is remarkably easy to reward undesirable behavior in children by allowing it to succeed." When you say no, it must mean no and not "negotiable." Your child will remember that you said no, but then later gave in when it comes to future situations. (This is reinforcing negative behavior.) Tihs will cause them to have hope that they will get their way and try harder for it than they would if they realized that the point is non-negotiable. The same concept applies to times when the child was given instructions to be followed, but chose not to. For example, a child should not receive their allowance if they have not complied with the expectations for earning it. To reward your child for not keeping up his or her end of the bargain weakens positive behavior. If there is no difference in how the child is treated either way, most children will take the easier road.

Dr. Dobson's Quotations Focus on the Family
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Hope Network for Single Mothers [CLICK TO EXPAND]

HOPE Network for Single Mothers is a volunteer-based grass roots support system. It provides emotional and material support to single mothers and their children in the greater Milwaukee area. Founded by Gail Grenier Sweet in 1982 as a nonprofit charitable organization, HOPE Network programs are designed to help mothers gain a sense of community, enhance their parenting skills, and develop self reliance.

Call: (262) 251-7333 (local from Milwaukee) - Monday through Friday

Write: HOPE Network, P.O. Box 531, Menomonee Falls, WI 53052-0531

Web: Hope Network

PLEASE CALL 920-261-9207 OR 24/7 Helpline: 800-924-6073