This post by Jean Matthew Hall is part of a ten-part series for parents on the Five Love Languages of Children. It is based primarily on the book The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell, M.D. (Northfield Publishing, 1997)
Time == Attention!
Time and attention go hand-in-hand. When your child begs you to do something with them they are asking for more than a few minutes of your time. They are asking for your attention.
Quality time means time that you focus on your child(ren). That doesn’t mean your entire life centers around your children. It means that parents deliberately chisel out some amount of time daily for each child. WOW! If you have several children that’s a big deal, I know. This is where the difference in quality of time and quantity of time is really important.
Reading one picture book with your little one in your lap, or curled up beside them in their bed is far more effective than an hour of the child sitting in the same room with you reading while you do ten other things.
Quality time is a parent’s gift of presence to a child. It shows the child that they are important to you. They matter.
Key Factors in Quality Time:
• Parent and child are doing something TOGETHER!
• Should include pleasant, loving eye contact during the activity.
• Should include some conversation related to each other or to your lives.
• Children NEVER outgrow (even into adulthood) their need for quality time with parents and extended family members.
Key Times for Quality Time:
• Family meals. Many families make a point of sharing one meal each day together.
• Families with teens often establish one meal time each week together.
• Bedtime is a key time with younger children. They tend to resist good-night rituals when they become teens, however. So learn when to back off.
• Car time traveling to appointments or shopping, or on longer trips are natural times for having meaningful conversations.
• Shared hobbies provide great opportunities, too.
As your children grow past their eighth or ninth birthdays it becomes increasingly difficult to find those key times mentioned above. Parents have to take the initiative and plan times spend with their children involving those Key Factors.
For children whose primary Love Language is Quality Time:
• Without sufficient quality time and attention this child will have a gnawing feeling that you don’t really love them. They probably won’t be able to express it clearly, so they may act out this fear and insecurity.
• Spending quality time with this child will build self-confidence, courage and social skills. It will also supply them with a life-time of loving memories of growing up.
• They want to show YOU how much they love you by spending time with you, too.