How Not Spending Time With Your Child Affects Them

By Kathryn Hatter
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Parental involvement has a powerful and far-reaching impact on the lives and well-being of children. The engagement and connection that develops when parents and children spend time together can have a positive effect in many different areas of a child’s life. Conversely, not spending time with a child may have negative effects that are difficult to undo.

Emotional Well-being

Investing time and effort into a relationship with a child should build significant dividends for the child. Children need to feel valued and important by their parents. Spending time with a child is one way to help children feel this security. Strong self-esteem helps a child feel confident and capable enough to pursue goals. Parents actively involved and engaged with a child are instrumental in developing this self-esteem and self-confidence. Children with uninvolved parents may struggle with maintaining self-esteem.


Involved and engaged parents often have children who perform better academically, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Engaged parents tend to demonstrate and communicate a priority to children regarding school. Engaged parents also communicate academic expectations to children, helping children reach these goals. Without strong parental involvement in a child’s academic progress, the child may flounder and lose interest and direction.


Busy and distracted parents may set the stage for misbehavior in children. Children crave attention from parents – preferably positive, loving and affirming attention. If parents do not provide positive attention to a child, the child may react by acting out and misbehaving to get a parent’s attention. A child will seek the negative parental attention that results from misbehavior to satisfy the need for any attention at all.


When parents and children do not spend adequate time together, a common result involves negative risk-taking behavior, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common risk-taking behavior includes alcohol and drug use, tobacco, sexual activity and violence. Active engagement – spending time together and parents being regularly available for support and communication – often results in children feeling more stable, which can reduce their chances of making dangerous decisions about behavior.

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