In the last two decades there has been much debate over which is more necessary for a child’s security, quality time or quantity time. Let’s face it, parenting is challenging, emotionally draining, and at times just plain hard so to complicate it by arguing these two points as if they are mutually exclusive is inaccurate and unfair.
Quantity time does not guarantee quality time as some suggest. If you are giving them negative attention or ignoring them, that is not quality time. On the other hand, you may be spending a week with them at Disney World, but that is not necessarily an indicator of quality time either.
So what is quality time?
Is it an extravagant event or something out of the ordinary routine of life that is fun for the child? Is it a walk on a Sunday afternoon? Is it curling up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a movie late at night? Is it turning off all the lights in the house and playing flashlight tag? Is it a shopping trip to the mall? What is it?
One thing quality time is not is an entry in your day planner. It may be a planned time but it should never be viewed as a forced activity as if under obligation or compulsion. Your kids will sniff that out immediately which will automatically disqualify it in their minds as quality.
Quality time moments are moments that will be remembered and reminisced about by your children. Think of your favorite childhood memories that involved you and your parents. That was quality time.
Quality time is a time where effective communication takes place. The activity is irrelevant except that it should be something that gives you an opportunity to communicate with your child in a way that speaks to them of your love, concern and care. It usually involves verbal communication, but it can also just be hand holding or snuggling on the couch. It may just be your presence in the room or at an event that was important to them. It may be putting the baby to bed 1/2 an hour earlier in order to spend time with an older sibling before their bed time just to have some one-on-one time together. It may be playing in the dishwater after the dishes are done. It may mean establishing a bed time routine that is done only with that child. It may be taking a day off work to go somewhere that the child has been wanting to go or going shopping for the latest pair of shoes that all the kids are wearing. It may involve an activity that the child would never have thought of on their own like a trip to the pottery store or the local museum. It could be library time, time at the park or a trip to the local swimming pool.
Quality time is not determined by the activity but by the interaction-what is communicated during that time. Even bad situations can become quality time. For instance, if a child or teen is sick or injured and requires daily maintenance, just your touch and expression of concern and delight over progress can be quality time for a child.
Quality time can be defined
as any amount of time and any activity that builds relationship through the communication of feelings between you and your child. To measure quality simply by quantity would negate any chance of parenting success to the parent who travels in their job or the single parent who is pulling a double load, yet these type of people raise functional, productive and emotionally stable children all the time.
The bottom line is that quality time is imperative to the healthy upbringing of any child. The amount of time or the design of the interaction is really secondary and specific to the individual child. If you study and know them, determining how to spend quality time with your children will be as natural as breathing to you and something you look forward to.