An early years setting asked me recently what I thought quality time with a young child meant. I was impressed they were asking, and so took some time to think about it. Here's what I wrote:
It's time when adult and child give each other full attention, and are emotionally attuned. When they attune repeatedly, the world becomes safe for the child, and she learns she can trust people. That means she can play and experiment, she can take risks and try new things knowing she will be supported. Any experience can be made a quality one, it's not what you do its how you do it, it's how you attend to your child. It's about being grounded, and open, and offering your emotional availability so that you can contain your child, and so help them learn how to contain themselves. It's about being present and spontaneous, and meeting the child where they are, not where you wish they were.
When I read back what I had written, the parallel with psychotherapy made me smile. This is what therapy is all about too, just with two adults rather than a parent and child. It's about quality of attending, about relationship, and about attunement.