Today I had the privilege and opportunity to share my expert parenting advice on the importance of dating your children on News 8 Morning Extra on the CW San Diego as a return guest (video link below). For a more in-depth view of the segment and greater detail of what I shared, I have outlined the information below!
When I have had clients share with me that their children are “acting up” one of the first things I recommend is for the parents to date their child. In other words, I suggest that each parent intentionally carve out time on their calendar for undivided alone time with that child. Over the years, I have received positive feedback from parents that behaviors improved with this extra one-on-one time.
There are so many benefits to dating your children. Spending time with each of your children is important for their self-worth, self-image, and overall emotional, mental, and social wellbeing. Dating your children will also:
-enhance your relationship with your child
-create a stronger and healthier secure attachment with them
-lessen negative attention seeking behavior
-lessen temper tantrums
-create long lasting positive memories
-teach your child relationship and communication skills
-teach your child the important of family values
So what does dating your children look like? What does it really mean and how can you benefit the most from your time together?
I suggest setting aside a small amount of time each day or each week – your special alone time can be simply going to get the mail together at the mailbox each afternoon or writing notes or coloring pictures for each other once a week in a mailbox that is just for you and them to communicate with each other. I also recommend a date outside the home once a month for each child with each parent.
Children will see the date on the calendar and look forward to it, increasing their positive behavior and decreasing negative attention seeking behavior, because they know they will have special time with you and your undivided attention on that date!
Each month, check to see what events are taking place in or around the city and plan ahead. Set the date, the time, and childcare for siblings if needed. As parents we tend to get busy and if it’s not on the calendar it may not happen. You have to make time and schedule it in advance. Maybe there is a special event, festival, or museum exhibit coming to town that month you can attend. You may need to make reservations or buy tickets, so plan ahead! The most important part is to FOLLOW THRU. Life happens, people get sick, things come up, but these dates should be a priority. If you have to cancel, set a new date as quickly as possible.
Your child will also have ideas so I suggest empowering them and letting them be involved with the process. Have them come up with their wish list of what they would like to do with you and you can pick from that list together based on your time and budget that month. And remember, dates don’t necessarily have to take up a lot of time or a lot of money. Setting time aside to take your child to the park or the library for even an hour or two will also be very special for them.
And please keep in mind that these dates should not necessarily be a reward for good behavior or taken away because of negative behavior, but treated as a necessity to your relationship with your child and a component to your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.
These dates should be spent phone free if possible, with active participation, active listening, and active involvement with your child. If you want to take some photos to remember your time together, I suggest using a camera instead of your phone so you aren’t tempted or become disengaged. This is about quality time together, not quantity time!
On the show, I was also asked how dating your children works for single parents and or parents with only children. The concept remains the same. We all have the tendency to get stuck in our day to day routines and I suggest that even if you are with that child alone on a regular basis, make a date extra special. When there is a once a month “special time” scheduled with that parent outside of the daily grind, it will make the same influence on your child no matter what the family system looks like.
News 8 Morning Extra on the CW San Diego discussing this topic, please visit my YouTube page by clicking the link below. And while you are there, please subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss more of my parenting tips, webinars, and my upcoming parenting talk show/podcast!