Bike rides are an enjoyable way to promote fitness among all family members.

How Does Spending Time as a Family Affect Children?

by Debra Pachucki

Young children are dependent on parents for their basic needs, but they also benefit from recreational time spent with Mom, Dad and siblings. As children grow older, become more independent and form outside relationships with friends, getting everyone together for quality family time can be a challenge. Learn the importance of spending time together as a family, as well as ways to encourage and strengthen the family bond as kids grow.

1. Social Development

Children first begin to develop social skills at home, where they interact with family members and learn how to establish relationships with others. Spending quality time together as a family can foster communication skills, family values and a sense of trust and bonding in young children. Family time also encourages cooperation, sharing, collaboration and communication in older kids.

2. Emotional Development

Daily time spent doing leisurely activities together as a family benefits children’s emotional well-being and development. When families make time to do things together, it establishes family cohesion, which is the family’s ability to relate to and bond with one another emotionally. Family time spent enjoying activities or even collaborating on chores and household tasks can also help children to experience love and appreciation, discover interests and passions and express emotions in healthy, positive ways. Quality family time can also reduce a child’s likelihood of experiencing emotional distress.

3. Cognitive Development and Behavior

According to research gathered by Family Facts, an organization that provides data on family trends in America, quality time spent with parents promotes children’s academic achievement. Family time also reduces children’s likelihood to engage in violent behavior or substance abuse. Contrarily, children who do not spend time with family are at an increased risk for substance abuse, emotional distress and other negative factors.

4. Making Family Time

Family vacations and special events provide meaningful bonding experiences for children and parents, but ordinary, low-cost activities can also encourage healthy development and family cohesion. According to Dr. Anne Fishel, families that regularly eat together at the dinner table promote children’s health and development in areas such as language, academic performance and self-esteem. Hosting a family game night once a week can promote bonding and communication as well as creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Engaging the family in routine chores fosters collaboration and can promote compromise and conflict-resolution skills.

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