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Family Life is Important for Kids Mental Health and Adjustment to Life
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Child Development Institute - Parenting Today Child Development Institute - Parenting Today
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Orange County , CA
Friday, May 24, 2019

 

positive family experiences-min

All parents have the goal of raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.  Most parents look for information online and from books and other resources related to child development, child psychology, and parenting to help them to be successful in achieving their goals.  Yet parents may overlook the importance of day to day interaction with kids and teens and the influence of a day to day family life as playing an essential role in supporting mental health and well-being for all family members.

Citing Parenting Matters, an exhaustive report published in 2016 by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)states, “Having a safe and loving home and spending time with family?playing, singing, reading, and talking?are very important. Proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep also can make a big difference”.

Also, one of the primary conclusions by the authors of “Family Leisure Functioning: A Cross-National Study.” published in (Leisure Sciences 2016), one of the principal findings was, “Consistent and continued involvement in family leisure remains important to family cohesion, adaptability, functioning, and satisfaction with family life; however, more emphasis should be placed on creating satisfying family leisure experiences rather than simply high levels of family leisure involvement”.

Finally,  the Search Institute has identified five types of positive family experiences, including (1) nurturing relationships, (2) establishing routines, (3) maintaining expectations, (4) adapting to challenges, and (5) connecting to the community can be strong predictors of quality of family life and resiliency.

Parents may think that seeing that their children are busy in extracurricular activities and helping them with their homework are the most important actions they can take to assure that their that kids and teens will become successful adults. However, they may overlook the importance of spending time interacting personally with their child or children.

When parents and kids spend time interacting and having fun together, the results are many and extremely valuable.  From this experience over the years, children come to feel important and loved.  They have the opportunity to adopt essential values from their parents.  Parents have the opportunity to have more in-depth knowledge about kids and teens strengths and weaknesses, which enables them to provide sufficient support and proper guidance.  During these times together, mainly when it is one-to-one time, children feel free to express their thoughts and feelings.  All of this result in a stronger parent-child bond, which leads to greater self-confidence, resilience, and self-reliance.

Here are a few activities to consider in increasing family fun-time and bonding:

1.  Family mealtime which includes family input into developing the menu, helping prepare the food, setting the table, serving, and cleaning up. Having a regular time for meals with all family members expected to attend most of the time is important.  No electronic devices should be present during meal time.  Use the time for family discussions related to what and how family members are doing.  Use it as a time for planning family activities.

2.  Get into the habit of reading to your children several times a week. For older children and teens, ask what book they are reading and then read it yourself.  In both cases, engage them in a discussion.  Ask what they liked about the book.  If it was a fiction book, ask what they thought about the final outcome or any other plot points.  Also, ask if they personally identified with any of the characters and if so, why. Ask if any of the characters reminded them of someone they know.  Look for opportunities to discuss character traits and values.  If the book is non-fiction, you can start by asking why he selected the book.  You may want to continue a discussion about the topic and their interests. Ask them what they learned and what they will do with the information.

3.  Attend community events together such as a parade, carnival, public project, fundraising projects like a walk or run.

4.  Participate in religious activities together.

5.  Plan for family game nights. Board games, card games are great ways to have fun.

6.  Share music by listening, singing, or dancing together.

7.  Participate in physical activity which could be playing catch or shooting baskets in the backyard or may go to the gym or pool together. Go fly a kite together.  Play Frisbee. Go to the beach or the lake and have fun.

8.  Build something together with blocks or Legos.

9.  Watch a movie together wither at a theater or at home. Discuss your impressions.  Look for teachable moments and open discussion related to character, values, and problem-solving.

10.  Plan outdoor family activities such as hiking walks, bicycling, picnics, or camping.

These are just a few suggestions.  Sit down with your children or hold a family meeting to brainstorm and plan fun things to share together.  Schedule the activities and commit to making it happen.  You will find that spending time together having fun strengthens your bond with each other, encourages open communication and a chance to get to know each other in more depth.  It also provides opportunities to discuss and share values and learn from each other.

Finally, your family will become more connected and cohesive.  Your children will feel loved and accepted.  You will all come to understand, accept, and appreciate each other.

Additional articles and resources related to Family Life is Important:

Music Is an Important Ingredient for Child Development and Parent-Child Relationships

How to Create Quality Time with Your Family As a Busy Mom or Dad

Want to Get Fit With Your Family? Here’s How You Can Make it Happen

Playground Fun for You and the Kids

Playing With Your Child

6 Tips for Reading to Your Children

Robert Myers, PhD is a clinical child and adolescent psychologist and is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine.  He is a regular contributor to Parentting TodayClick Here to contact Dr Myers.

 
Child Psychologist - Parent Educator - Author
Child Development Institute
Orange, CA
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