Expert Articles

Quality Parent-Child Time

Author: Dr. Sandra Tsang
Associate Professor, Department of Social Work and Social Administration

Tsz Chung, the three-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Kwok, is their only child. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kwok have long working hours and often return home after Tsz Chung goes to bed. Although they have limited time to spend with their son each evening, Tsz Chung has a great relationship with his parents. This is because Mr. and Mrs. Kwok have turned the most energetic time of the day, right after waking up in the morning, into quality parent-child time. They engage in joyful activities with their child, setting the tone for each day.  

Parent-child relationships are lifelong and especially crucial during the early stages of a child’s life. It provides a secure attachment for the child, encourages them to explore and learn, and fosters positive social development. Mr. and Mrs. Kwok have made it a habit to spend quality time with their child every morning, establishing a healthy routine. This will create pleasant associations when it comes to waking up for school in the future.

While Mr. and Mrs. Kwok usually take the lead in parenting, during the special morning parent-child time, they allow Tsz Chung to take the lead. This enables the parents to observe his progress, nurture his creativity, and allow Tsz Chung to gain positive attention from his parents. It helps build his autonomy and self-confidence, thereby enhancing communication and the parent-child relationship.  

Based on Tsz Chung ‘s current abilities, the Kwok family has set the duration of the quality parent-child time to 30 minutes, starting after Leven completes his basic grooming routine. During this time, Tsz Chung can choose his favourite book or toy from the selection provided by his parents. The parents then engage in activities, games, storytelling, or singing and dancing based on his interests. Throughout this time, the parents not only enjoy wholehearted presence (putting down their mobile and turning off the TV) but also:  

  1. Eye contact: When conversing with their child, parents maintain eye contact and listen attentively, showing that they are fully engaged in listening to their child. They also flip through the books or toys that Leven enjoys, based on his interests.

  2. Listening: Parents attentively listen to the content of their child’s words and respond appropriately. For example, if Tsz Chung wants his parents to listen to him sing or imitate animal sounds, the parents make sure to listen carefully before responding.

  3. Verbal response: Parents provide immediate and appropriate responses to their child’s words (singing together or imitating animal sounds together). Parents can also describe their child’s behaviour, indicating that they are paying attention and, in the process, helping the child learn relevant verbal expressions (e.g., saying “build high,” “winning,” “losing,” “as fast as possible”). When the child performs well, parents should genuinely and promptly express their appreciation.

  4. Physical involvement: Parents actively participate in activities led by the child to make them more enjoyable. Parents should also use body language such as smiling, nodding, or gently patting the child’s shoulder to demonstrate their active engagement.

Specific, age-appropriate, and adequate positive parent-child time clearly expresses parents’ care and love for their child. When children feel supported and encouraged by their parents and have a sense of security, they can easily develop a positive self-image and move forward with confidence.

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Quality Parent-Child Time