Why your children need a holiday more than you
Adults are always anxiously waiting for the holidays. They can finally get their well-deserved break. However, family holidays play a significant role in children’s lives too, which isn’t usually discussed. For the first time in many months, children get to spend time with their parents when they aren’t overwhelmed with their work.
Parents who work for 8-9 hours a day barely get to spend time with their children and the few hours they do get, they tend to be exhausted. Holidays are the few moments where children get to spend time with their parents without the distraction or stress of work.
Spending time with your children kicking a ball around on the beach or teaching your kids how to ride a bike, have physical benefits but they have mental benefits as well.
Playing with your children on holiday is considered “attachment play”. Attachment-play refers to the use of play and laughter to solve a child’s behavior problems. Attachment-play is essential for a healthy and nurturing relationship between parents and their children. Attachment-play is also vital for a child’s self-esteem. When a parent gives their child undivided attention, it boosts the child’s self-esteem as they realize that they are worth their parent’s attention and that their parents genuinely enjoy spending time with them.
Take a moment to think of how your interaction with your children on a family holiday differs to your interaction with them while you’re at home.
Consider these facts:
- Two-thirds of conversations between parent and child are about daily routine (Elizabeth Buie, TES).
- 65 percent of parents say they only play occasionally with their children.
- Fathers specifically struggle to spend time with their children, one in six fathers say they do not know how to play with their child and a third say they simply don’t have the time to play (Parent-Play survey, Playmobil UK).
- Only a quarter of children say they talk to parents more than once a week about something that matters (Child of Our Time).
- Our physical health should be one of our top priorities but we undervalue its importance on emotional well-being which also impacts our physical health. Relationships are vital for our mental health, in turn, our physical health.
Holidays can actually promote brain development in children. When a child is on holiday with family, two major systems of their brain are activated, the PLAY system and the SEEKING system. These brain systems were discovered by neuroscientists, Professor Jaak Pankscepp. The PLAY system is triggered when you play with your child. The SEEKING system is activated whenever your child is in new surroundings. Pankscepp believes that when your family’s holiday experiences activate these systems, they stimulate well-being neurochemical such as oploids, oxytocin, and dopamine. These hormones reduce stress and generate feelings of warmth and generousness. As stress levels are low for both the parents and the children, and feelings of kindness are at a high, they are able to connect and strengthen their relationships.
Pankscepp suggests that families partake in activities that release oxytocin.
“We have this wonderful healing substance inside us and need only to learn the many ways we can draw upon it,” Pankscepp explains.
According to Pankscepp, these systems work like muscles and have a way of becoming grafted into your personality. With time, emotional states become a part of your personality.
By taking your child on a holiday you are encouraging their minds to be more inquisitive (triggering their SEEKING system) which is necessary for the development of their brains while they are children and a valuable quality as an adult.