Sure, we've enjoyed lots of quality time with the kids this summer. But, once school starts, the frenzy also begins. Think: homework, soccer practice, piano lessons and chess club. Nevermind our own work schedules. Dr. Amy Alamar, an author and educator in Avon, says: continue to carve out special time with your child. It will pay-off in the future.
"Research does suggest that quality time with your kids does make a difference, it's the protective factor. So, it's affiliated with reduced risky behavior," says Alamar. "That's 25 to 30 minutes a day. A family dinner. It's a hike, a game night, anything like that."
These meaningful moments allow for easy conversation which is so important, even if you're just chatting about day-to-day topics. "It's about developing that relationship so your kids can come back to you and talk about deeper things," explains Alamar. "You're establishing lines of communication that you hope will last a lifetime." Alamar is the author of Parenting for the Genius: Developing Confidence in Your Parenting through Reflective Practice. This mom-of-three teaches folks how to be low-stress parents in a stressed-out world.
Turn down the radio. Even taking that time in the car to talk - not forcing the conversation - can be an effective way to get kids - especially adolescents - to talk.
During these moments, Alamar says: Listen and learn.
"I think it's very easy for us to come at our children and talk. We're so eager to get to know them, to develop that relationship," she says, noting that we parents often want to "fix" everything for our kids. "Really, listening is a better way to teach your kids independence and resilience because if you're listening to them and helping them come to their own conclusion, that's going to make them better at being on their own, speaking for themselves and advocating for themselves."
For example, if your son comes home with an academic issue, don't jump-in and say: "Maybe you should study more." Instead, try an "open-ended" question: "'What do you think went wrong today?' or 'How do you think you should react?' or 'What do you think you should do tomorrow?'" suggests Alamar who recently moved to Connecticut from California. She continues to work with the Girard Education Foundation where she advises teachers, administrators, parents and students about digital learning.
Click here for more "back-to-school" thoughts from Alamar.