A QUARTER of parents worry they don't spend enough time with their child in the evenings, new research has shown, but psychologists have come up with a series of key questions they should ask when trying to reconnect with them after school.
After commuting, cooking dinner and doing household chores, the average parent has just 30 minutes to devote to their children in the evenings, according to a new study.
One in four working parents worry that half an hour simply isn't enough, while almost half fret that they aren't a good enough parent during the week.
However parenting experts believe just 12 minutes a day may be enough for mothers and fathers to fully reconnect with their child – as long as they ask the right questions.
Child psychologist Dr Claire Halsey said asking a series of open-ended questions can help improve parents' relationships with their children.
Among the questions recommended in the research are: 'How many times have you smiled today – what made you laugh?' ; 'Can you act out what you did at breaktime?'; 'Who is taller – mummy or your teacher?' and 'What are the names of the toys you played with today?'
Parents of older children are advised to start up a conversation with: 'I've got a great story for you but I want one in return ... you first!' or 'Tell me some school gossip ... I'm all ears!'
Dr Halsey, working with the makers of Ribena Plus, who commissioned the research, said: "There is no one as tough on their own parenting skills as a parent – but this study shows there is no need for parents to be so harsh.
"It's hard for working parents to juggle all their responsibilities and it can feel like guilt is simply a parent's lot – but it's absolutely not.
"By using clever tactics such as a little preparation alongside use of open ended questions – such as 'Tell me what the best bit about your day was?' - parents can reduce the time worrying about chores and work and spend more time learning about their children's day."
Some 42 per cent of parents worry they aren't a good enough parent during the week and spend the equivalent of seven days a year (39 minutes per day) trying to emotionally reconnect with their children and get back into the family mindset when they return home from work and school.
More than a third of parents – 37 per cent – admit they struggle to switch off from work mode at home and almost half – 45 per cent – of time-pressed parents worry about chores while they are reconnecting with their kids.
Ten open-ended questions to find out about a child's day:
Age 3 – 4 years
– What are the names of the toys you played with today?
– Who is taller – mummy or your teacher?
– Tell me about the best game you played today ...
Age 4 – 8 years
– Can you act out what you did at breaktime?
– Give you three guesses what I did today!
– How many times have you smiled today – what made you laugh?
Age 8 – 14 years
– I've got a great story for you but I want one in return ... you first!
– Tell me some school gossip ... I'm all ears!
– What science project are you doing at the moment and can I help with it?
– Where are you off to with your friends this week?