The Gift of Time
Jinny Hopp, former Human Development Specialist, Jasper County, University of Missouri Extension
“The best thing parents can spend on their children is time, not money.” –Anonymous
A great deal of wisdom from an anonymous source. The advice given in this quote is backed by current research. A report in the Child Development journal about research conducted with two- and three-year-old children shows that the quality time a parent (especially fathers) spends with his or her children predicts the quality of the child’s language and cognitive development. Another study, the Chicago Longitudinal Study which began in 1967 and is ongoing, has found that parental involvement helps children succeed in school.
Make plans to spend time with the children in your life during this
holiday season. Instead of many expensive gifts, give your child the
gift of time. Some of our best memories are of family traditions and
rituals around the holidays. Children who benefit from the gift of time
make better grades in school, are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and
are more likely to be competent problem solvers. Besides, spending time
with your child is fun!
Do you have certain things that you do each year to get ready for
the holidays? Cutting a fresh Christmas tree from a farm, decorating
the tree with family members, visiting people who can't get out, making
special foods, reciting special stories? These events become part of
the sense of history that teaches your culture and values to your growing
Parents and children can exchange coupons for gifts of time with
each other instead of material gifts. How about coupons for walks in
the park, a fishing trip, reading or telling stories together, riding
bicycles. These activities foster closer parent and child relationships
and encourage the child to grow in healthy ways.
Try some of these ideas or some of your own with your children this season. The results are worth the effort!
Tamis-Lemonda, C.S., Shannon, J. D., Cabrera, N. J., & Lamb, M. E. (2004). Fathers and mothers at play with their 2- and 3-year-olds: Contributions to language and cognitive development. Child Development, 75, 1806-1820.
Miedel, W. T., & Reynolds, A. J. (1999, April). Parent Involvement in Elementary School and High-School Success: Is There a Connection? Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.
Last Updated 12/11/2013