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Focus parenting on 'time in,' not 'time out'


If striving to be a better parent this New Year is one of your goals, you are not alone. The pressure of being a near-perfect parent can feel both daunting and yet still expected.

We can be overwhelmed by the expectation to research the perfect diet, help our children learn a second language, master a variety of sports, play an instrument and achieve stellar grades. Oh yeah, and we’re supposed to maintain a day job and pristine-looking home. My advice is let go of all that pressure and expectation and try one simple change instead: Give your child more "time in" experiences.

We’re all familiar with time out, those moments when your child’s behavior means they need to quietly reflect on why brutally yanking on their sister’s hair was a poor choice. Time out and grounding are meant to separate your child from others so they can realize he or she should work at being a better person. Time out, when used well, can be very effective. However, many children need more Time In experiences.

"Time in" represents moments when your child gets to share a special, private experience with you. It can be as simple as walking the dog together, sharing an ice cream date, or even just an uninterrupted 15 minute conversation.

Your children don’t really want more toys or gadgets or after-school activities. What they crave is your attention and approval. Setting aside time as often as you can to let your child know he or she is a very special person in your life and that you enjoy being around them, too, makes a bigger impact than learning a foreign dialect.

About Amy Seery MD

Amy Seery, MD, is a pediatrician with Via Christi Clinic and a faculty member of the Via Christi Family Medicine Residency program.