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Spend Special Time with Your Child

How Quantity Is Your Quality?

Don't get defensive now, I'm not reading over your shoulder. I've just noticed in my day-to-day dealing with parents that when the time crunch is on, special time is usually the first thing to go. It's easily compromised, especially when things get nuts. (Among my own family and the families of most of my friends, “nuts” is the normal state of things.) The next thing to disappear is all that other “quality” time with your kids that isn't quite so special-the discussions over shelling peas, the discussions in the car about Grandpa's cancer. Look, I know you're crazy-busy (and you have no idea how much I can relate), but how much time do you spend with your child these days? How “quality” is that time?

The Quality Time Quiz

Minutes a day, seconds a day, far too many hours? During those minutes, seconds, and hours, how much of that time is your attention shared with other kids, laundry, the report to the board, trimming your toenails? There's no recipe about the number of hours or quality time spent with your kids. It's not a simple formula of more equals better. (I'm one of those parents who goes bonkers if I don't have time away from my child, and it's truly no reflection of how much I love her, or enjoy being with her.) The interesting thing is that few parents truly know how much time they are actively parenting, and how much of that time they are focused on their kids.

Since, as they say, knowledge is power, let's get a little knowledge. Get out your eeny teeny notebook and get ready to write. Every day for a week, write down how much actual time you spend with your child, who else is there, what you do or talk about, and what else is going on while you're together. I suggest doing it for a full week so you can include a weekend. When you're done, look it over. Surprised? Most parents are.

Minimum Quality Time in Two Minutes Flat

Guess what? In an emergency, quality time can be short-very short. Of course, it isn't as good as a major, laid-back hang-out or adventure, but just by focusing and paying attention, you can still really connect with your child. Anthony E. Wolf in his book Why Did You Have to Get a Divorce? And When Can I Get a Hamster? writes, “Obviously, two minutes a day is not enough. But even a little of special just-you-and-them time touches a place deep within kids. More often than not, parents already provide it-usually at bedtime. But it can be anytime.”



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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