"But research says we shouldn't make the bed!" Stop looking over Junior’s shoulder during long division practice. Doing homework o...
Stop looking over Junior’s shoulder during long division practice. Doing homework or chores with your children can make them feel pressured to meet your expectations, which pushes them away from you and can have negative emotional consequences, according to new research in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
Researchers recruited 237 children and asked each to respond to hourly surveys. During homework and household chores, the kids’ emotional well-being dipped if they were around their parents, the study shows.
Better for your kids: leisure time with the whole family. In the study, researchers found the hours you spend eating meals, playing games, or just hanging out with your kids establishes bonds that help children feel more comfortable with themselves and more emotionally stable, explains study author Shira Offer, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University.
In another new study, Temple University researchers kept tabs on 115 households and found that kids from families who stick to routines—getting up at the same time every day, and following the same evening and weekend schedules—were 20 percent less likely to exhibit problem behaviors. The kids were also 32 percent more engaged at school, the study says.
Why? A chaotic home life messes with your child’s sense of order, and leads them to believe their actions don’t have predictable consequences, explains study co-author Mia Budescu, who researches developmental psychology at Temple. But stable routines help kids manage their expectations and their emotions, and improve their ability to thrive in social and academic settings, she says.
Here are three new rules to improve your kids’ life at home:
1. Establish routines, and stick to them.
Have dinner at the same hour every night, designate specific times for TV, family activities, and homework, and try to rise and go to bed on a set schedule. The sense of stability and security kids feel from these routines lessens the anxiety and psychological stress of life outside the home, says Ronald Taylor, Ph.D, who coauthored the Temple study.
2. Spend your downtime wisely.
When you relax with your kids, “talk about things that are going on in their lives, play games, and just have fun,” says Offer. “The key is to engage with your kids, not just be near them,” she adds. Don’t plop down on the couch and fire up an episode of Adventure Time—choose one of these 10 best board games to play with your kids instead. Or better yet, head outdoors and break a sweat: Kids who squeeze in just 7 daily minutes of vigorous activity tend to have lower a body mass index and lower blood pressure than their less active counterparts, finds recent University of Manitoba research.
3. Help with homework and chores, but don’t criticize or judge.
“Kids feel anxious about not measuring up to their parents’ expectations,” Offer explains, and that can make work time detrimental to your relationship and your child’s emotional health. Your job is to encourage and assist, not pass judgment, Offer says.
If you liked this story, you’ll love these: