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Improving the Parent-Child Relationship through Quality Time and Play

By Eva Timothy, Professional Practice Extension Assistant Professorparents playing with their children

 Whether a parent works outside the home or not, ensuring regular quality family time can be a challenge. We are all aware that many adult responsibilities clamor for our attention. Throw into the mix our concerns about whether we are giving our children sufficient time for them to develop into wonderful human beings and we have a recipe for guilt. So, how can we avoid the guilt and better balance our child’s needs with life’s demands? Quality time and some good old fashion play.

Quality time activities consist of interactions that are void of digital devices that would distract. This is not to say that if you and your child share an interest in 3-D printing that you may not use that technology as you bond. Rather, remember the plan for this time is for all parties to give their attention to one another. The time you give serves to strengthen your relationship by letting your child know that you care about him. It can also serve to help you feel successful in your role as a parent, especially if you are having to balance work and family needs (Milkie et al, 2010). Your chosen activities can be as simple or complex as you and your child would like. If you are concerned about finding time for one more thing, remember it is not about the amount given but rather your attentiveness to your child in the time you do have. Lastly, do not forget to have fun. 

Who does not enjoy having fun? Even as adults, we seek out those things that we would consider enjoyable. Your version of fun may differ from your child’s, but that does not mean you will not be able to enjoy time together. Adding play into your parent-child quality time aids your child in her development while reinforcing your bond with one another (Milteer et al, 2012). Milteer and colleagues (2012)  also remind us that children need play to learn how to navigate social situations, explore emotions, develop problem-solving skills, and more. It is also one of the first ways in which a child expresses how he or she interprets what is taking place in their life. This unique glimpse of your child’s world can help you better understand his needs and personality. Besides, some of the things your child says or does while you play with him might end up being one of your cherished memories later on.  

            For more ideas on improving your quality time, visit:


  • Employment Characteristics of Families Summary. (2021, April 21). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved September 8, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm
  • Milkie, M. A., Kendig, S. M., Nomaguchi, K. M., & Denny, K. E. (2010). Time With Children, Children's Well- Being, and Work-Family Balance Among Employed Parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(5), 1329-1343. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00768.x
  • Milteer, R. M., Ginsburg, K. R., Council on Communications and Media Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, & Mulligan, D. A. (2012). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond: Focus on Children in Poverty. American Academy of Pediatrics, 129 (e204). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2953