Investing In Child Mental Health

The sheer amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how children turn out, and a minimal effect on adolescents, according to the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time to be published in April in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The finding includes children’s academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being. I, frankly, disagree and fault the study!

There are many other studies that prove spending time greatly impacts how children develop when it comes to emotional health and mental health. Ignoring a child, not bonding with a child, and simply not putting positive amounts of time into spending with a child does harm the child later on in life. This brings about trust issues, ability to work with other adults, the ability (or lack of) to form relationships with other people, and basic empathy are all hindered in adults who don’t have an investment of time from their parents.

Amy Hsin, a sociologist at Queens College, has found that parents who spend the bulk of their time with children under 6 watching TV or doing nothing can actually have a “detrimental” effect on them. And the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that children also need unstructured time to themselves without the engagement of parents for social and cognitive development.

As I continue to research and work on this topic, I am amazed at the amount of media “frill” articles that encourage not bonding with one’s child. One article even bragged that it has “10 Ways to Capture Alone Time” when raising a child. While healthy breaks are important, being there for your child sets up trust, security and healthy ways to interact with authority figures. So, what happens when there is no time investment? It can’t be that these children are turning into healthy, stable adults with no disbandment issues.

Children from birth to adulthood need time and attention and physical hugs and cuddles that are healthy from their parents. Sometimes parents become so anxious to raise a “successful” child that they overlook the importance of spending time interacting personally with their child or children, or -worse, they throw money and toys at them- not love. Interactive time is that spent with both child and parent fully engaged in an activity together.

With all the mixed information floating on the Internet, know that spending time is simply important. An investment of time in your child, from a young age, helps the  child feels important and loved. This investment also allows him or her an opportunity to model parent’s behavior. I also believe investing time can help the parent observe and learn about the child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to better guide them as they grown. Plus, the child has a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings and the parent and child develop a stronger bond.

All this said, isn’t it better to invest your time as a parent into your child then risk the adverse impact of doing the opposite later on in life? If you want to watch a great documentary on the investment in time and the human spirit when it comes to children, click here for the trailer to The Drop Box. https://vimeo.com/41412962

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