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Tara Green: The importance of giving children quality time


IN HER second column, parenting guru TARA GREEN looks at the importance of giving your children some time to themselves...

MUCH is said in parenting circles about the need to spend quality one-to-one time with our children.

How necessary, desirable or easy this is to achieve depends upon circumstances. But there is an easy way to share out quality time in a family.

Children need some time away from their brothers and sisters. This could be an occasional or a regular need, depending on how well they get on.

It doesn't have to include trips or treats – or even leaving the house. It is easy to organise and implement.

At the end of the working day, adults leave the workplace and their colleagues behind.

Imagine if that was not the case; imagine if we were expected to share our free time, our rest and relaxation time, with people we don't always enjoy spending time with.

The family home is a place where siblings have to spend a lot of time together.

They are different ages, have different interests and may or may not have compatible personalities.

As parents, we hope that once they are grown, our children will have a good relationship, and offer love, friendship and support to each other. Expecting or forcing them together will not necessarily lead to this.

Our sibling relationships are the first in which we learn conflict resolution skills, sharing and self control. Children do want to throttle each other some days! On bad days you can feel like a referee.

There are other days when they get along in fairytale style-happiness. Siblings do need to learn to be together but also benefit from time apart.

The children sometimes need time away from their brothers and sisters.

"But I have four children," I hear you cry. It is still possible. Only one child gets time to themselves at a time.

For example, ask your children to play in the living room while one of them has some time reading, drawing or just chilling out to music in the bedroom.

Help one child with their homework while the others watch a video. One child could have a bubble bath while the others use the rest of the house as normal but leave that child in peace.

"But I have a baby and a toddler," I hear you cry. Toddler groups give your older child time to play, free from the constraints of having to be quiet or good because the baby is tired/ asleep/ feeding/ teething etc.

Use naptimes. You may be really lucky and have a baby and a toddler who sleep at the same time, but probably not. So let your older child help you prepare dinner, read a book or play with a toy that can't be out when the baby is around.

Last week my oldest daughter was ill and spent the day at home. As the end of the school day neared, she was looking out of the window and constantly checking the clock.

I asked if she was missing her sister to which the answer was a vehement "no." A few moments later she sheepishly said, "Actually I am."

She had enjoyed a quiet day at home with me and had benefited from it, but after this break was keen to have her playmate back. A little absence had made her heart grow fonder.

Tara Green: The importance of giving children quality time

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