How much time do you think Canadians spend talking with kids every day?
I’m talking real conversation – not the “pick up your socks” or “you’ll be late for the bus” type interaction or receiving instruction in school. I mean conversation, listening to kids read or reading to them, playing together, helping with homework and even reprimanding behaviour. It’s what Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey calls “talk-based activities with children aged 0 to 14 years.”
While it may feel like you’re spending hours talking with your kids or believing they’re engaged in a lot of one-on-one talk interaction at school, the truth is less than one hour a day is spent in meaningful talk-based activity with kids under 15.
Time spent in talk-based activities with kids ages 0 to 14 years was only 34.2 minutes in 2014, down from 36.8 minutes in 2005.(1)
Ontario fared slightly better at 40 minutes with Central Ontario coming in at a provincial high of 45 minutes. Still, that’s less than an hour a day.(2)
This connection time is important for kids’ overall development, helping make them great members of our families and of society. It’s important time for adults too to know what’s happening in their world and to glean how we can support them. And, it’s an indicator of our overall wellbeing. Yet it’s not always easy to find time to connect. We’re rushing through dinner to make it to the kids’ swimming or guitar lessons or to dashing off to our own commitments.
I’m hardly the role model on this one. Too often, the big picture is a victim of the tyranny of the immediate or the interaction is not what I had hoped for; but, from one flawed parent to an interested reader, my family has had a lot of fun with these games. They’re great for the dinner table or for a longer drive and they introduce topics where everyone’s equal. They open the conversation enough for someone to broach a rule they think is unfair, to share a dream or to thank someone in the family in a way that’s not “weird.” (My kids are 11 and 14… everything is “weird” or “cringy” right now.) It allows the kids to see their parents as people too – not just the cook, driver and disciplinarian.
Just curious, what’s the best question you’ve ever asked a family member or been asked yourself? What happened? I’d love it if you would share 🙂
Signing off and wishing you a great Family Day weekend.
(1) Canadian Index of Wellbeing, 2016 national report indicator trends data tables, data from Statistics Canada, General Social Survey.
(2) Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Profiles of wellbeing in Ontario, Central Region, p.35