Sometimes in or busy lives interactions with our children end up as a series of instructions and demands, battling to get them to school on time, to do their homework, brush their teeth, trying to make sure they ‘behave’ and at the end of the day, reading a bed time story if we can manage it.
Special time is a fixed, completely undisturbed 20 minute period spent between parent and child. It has been known to work wonders with children of any age, especially those who are most challenging! Sounds too good to be true? Set aside just 20 minutes a couple of times a week and you could radically transform your relationship with your children. Give it a go…
How to do it…
Call it ‘Special Time’. This is a name that even very small children can relate to and they will get to know it and look forward to it.
Your child chooses how to spend the whole time. Let her know that she can do anything at all. Aim not to have any restrictions unless it’s absolutely necessary. She might want to play chase, read, play a game, talk, draw, cook, do something messy or noisy… the possibilities are endless. If they don’t know what they want to do, that’s fine, it’s not your job to make suggestions.
You are the observer. Your job is to be there with your child. Really look at her, see what she’s doing, be interested in her. Play or engage without leading. Let her lead you.
Only talk if you are invited to. This may sound a little strange and it might feel a bit artificial to begin with. Your job is to be there so don’t offer comments or talk unless she engages you first. So, if she cheats during a game of cards or picks her nose the whole way through or you notice her hair needs washing, nails need cutting, you want to ask questions or make suggestions, stay quiet and observe!
Set the time. Do it at a time that suits you. Let her know she will have 20 minutes. Special time is best done in the home, set aside from normal play-time.
Switch off your phone and anything else that might cause a disturbance. This is absolutely critical. Nothing disturbs this time with your child except a true emergency.
Keep to 20 minutes. It is long enough for the child to feel valued and important but not too long to make it unmanageable for you.
Appreciate your child at the end of the 20 minutes. Tell her 2 or 3 things that you enjoyed or liked about what you saw. Make it specific such as; ‘I really liked the way you laid the cards out so carefully’.
Do not withdraw special time when a child behaves inappropriately. This time remains a trusted and special part of your relationship which is not used as a reward or withheld as a punishment.
Sea kayaking, hill walking, a bit of climbing and just taken up sailing.
Been in business in Carlisle for around 20 years (former Managing Director of Jack Wolfskin Ltd.), and a keen believer...