By: Dr. Danielle Dwyer
Spring Break is just around the corner! It's been a long, cold, busy, winter for all of us.. check out these tips for making the most of quality time with your children during the break.
- 10 Minutes Distraction-free: Spend 10 minutes with your child while they have your full attention (no phones or TV). For younger children, this may look like following their lead in a game they want to play. For adolescents, try asking them open-ended questions about their day and listening judgment-free. Bonus points if you let them teach you about a video game they are playing or show you some of their favorite TikTok videos.
- Tips for Playtime: During 10 minutes of playtime, DO describe your child’s play, imitate play, reflect what your child is doing (pretend you're a sports commentator), praise your child for positive behavior, and be enthusiastic. Avoid commands, corrections, questions, and criticizing. These strategies help fill your child’s attention tank full of positive interactions! Creative toys are great during child-directed playtime, such as Legos, blocks, coloring, and dolls.
- Praise, praise, praise: Catch your child behaving well with enthusiastic, specific positive praise and/or physical touch (high five, pat on the back) to add momentum to positive behaviors. Positive attention from caregivers is rewarding for children of all ages. Do you see your child sharing with a sibling while you’re prepping dinner from the kitchen? Praise it across the room to let them know you notice!
- Model Behaviors: Caregivers are great teachers for children, so try modeling and labeling behaviors you want to see more of from your child. For example, you can say, “Aunt Sue loves sugar cookies, so I am going to make them for her.” Then, you can point out when your child engages in a generous act: “You colored such a nice picture for your brother. That is so kind!”
- Routine-ish: It is challenging to maintain daily routines while children are on break from school; however, there are behavioral benefits to keeping structure for your child’s day. Children thrive in predictability. Try prioritizing the parts of your child’s routine that may affect their behavior the most. For example, sleep and wake times, bedtime routines, chore time, or contingencies before screens are earned!
Positive quality time with a caregiver is very meaningful for children. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, as positive praise from caregivers often snowballs into more positive behavior from children. Be kind to yourself during this busy time of year and keep these five tips in mind to enjoy quality time with your children.