Quality Time Ingredient #2: Don’t just be there. Be present.

If you read the last article, you would have learned that the first ingredient for Quality Time is to engage your children one at a time. In this article, I will share with you the second ingredient to Quality Time.

The second ingredient to Quality Time is to be present. This means freeing yourself from all distractions when you are spending time with your child.

Mobile devices are the most common source of distraction today. It has become so common that a new term “technoference” has been coined to describe it. Research shows that fathers who are distracted by their mobile devices not only interact less with their children, but are more hostile towards their children. Children competing with digital devices for their parent’s attention have been shown to be at risk for behavioural problems, including sadness and withdrawal, hyperactivity, and temper tantrums.

So dads, it is best to keep your mobile devices far away when you are with your child so that he or she will have your full and undivided attention. What’s more, you are modelling healthy digital habits to your child. 

Apart from our digital devices, fathers are often distracted by rumination while being with their children. According to the dictionary, to ruminate means “to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly”. It may be about tasks that are still incomplete or about a disagreement with a colleague, or generally about the future. Ruminations are intrusive. They upset us when we don’t want to be upset. They switch us on when we are trying to switch off. And we all do it far more than we realise.

Rumination and worry can be switched off at will. The next time you spend alone time with your child, remember to keep your mobile device as far as away as possible and switch off the rumination.

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering