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Children's and parenting health centre

Do you spend too much time with your kids?

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Spending time with your kids is what family life is all about. It's important for parents and children to do things together to strengthen the family bond. You can overdo it though, which can be unhealthy for you and your children.

Do you feel like you're always responsible for your child's entertainment? Do you spend close to every waking hour with your kids? Is all of your free time devoted to tending to their needs? If that's the case it may be time to strike a new balance.

Depends on their age

You obviously need to spend more time with a younger child as they are more physically and emotionally reliant on you.

"When children are infants, they are likely to be together with their parents 24/7," says author and parenting expert Karen Doherty. "This gradually changes and by the time they are teenagers, parents can find they need to book an appointment with their children a week in advance just to have Sunday lunch together!"

"While very young babies need to spend the majority of their time with their one caregiver, usually a parent, spending all your time with an older child can actually hinder their development," says Siobhan Freegard, founder of the parenting site Netmums.

Giving kids more independence

If you and your child spend too much time together, your child doesn't learn how to form other relationships or make friends with children his or her own age.

Children need time with other people, adults and other kids, to develop trust and to learn how to play and get along in wider society.

"It also helps your child to understand about balance in life, to be in the company of other children and other adults in a range of situations. It helps them to begin to learn to be independent and responsible for themselves - rather than mum or dad being on call 24/7," says Lorraine Thomas, Chief Executive of The Parent Coaching Academy.

Invite other children over on play-dates, enrol your child in swimming lessons or have a birthday party for your child. It all helps to give them more independence so they can learn to be their own person.

Encourage kids to stay overnight at grandparents or go on sleepovers at a friend's house if they want to.

Children also benefit from being bored and being on their own, having to make up their own entertainment.

Parents should also let their children know that they as adults have other responsibilities like work and chores. It's good for them to realise they have lives outside of being a mum or dad.

Me time

Much as we love our kids, time away from them is a must for parents too. It's often the most committed parents who overdo the togetherness.

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