Special Time helps to improve confidence and relationships and creates a sense of emotional safety and security.
At KindleKids we believe that connecting with our children and creating a sense of them feeling connected to us goes a long way to treat and prevent a variety of emotional, behavioural and social difficulties. One of the ways to do this is by spending ‘special time’ with your child. For those of you that we have had the pleasure to meet, this may be a familiar concept for you.
In summary, ‘Special Time’ is time spent alone with each child where time is focused completely on that child. This will involve setting aside ten minutes at the same time every day where your child knows that he/she is going to get ‘special time’ alone with you. It is vital that your child chooses the activity and that you are as free from interruption as possible. There should be no distractions. The thinking behind this is that as your child realises that he is going to have quality time with you regardless of what else is happening on any given day, and this predictability means that he becomes less needy of your time at other times of the day. The main message of this technique is that your child feels valued for who he is and you are giving him the message that you want to spend time with him because you enjoy him and their interests, not because you have another task or agenda to complete with them. When introducing special time it is useful to say something like “I know that things are really busy, but I miss you and I would like to make time every day where we can spend a bit of ‘special time’ together, just you and me, doing something that you enjoy.” An important aspect of this approach is that special time is for YOU, not them. You are asking for their time, not offering to give them yours. This is a subtle but important distinction.
Special time should happen every day and is not a reward for good behaviour but happens regardless of how your child has behaved that day. It is about connecting with your child – it is not a reward and never withhold as punishment. It should happen every day at a scheduled time so that it is predictable for your child and will reduce attention-seeking behaviour at other times.
It is not easy to find ten uninterrupted minutes in a day – but the rewards will be worth the effort!
Whether you are able to manage special time or not, other ways to connect include:
- Listen to your child and validate their feelings.
This will help them to feel valued and important and will help them to trust their feelings and feel connected as they will trust that adults can accept their difficult feelings and not become overwhelmed by them.
- Make a weekly date.
Set a weekly date with each child, so you are ensured some alone time with them to do something enjoyable or just spend time together. You do not need to spend money to spend time!
- Talk to them.
As obvious as this sounds, when you get home from work or your child gets in from school, have some time just to talk about your day and discuss their day, without asking too many intrusive questions. Sometimes asking about what was the best bit of their day or the worst is a good way to get them to connect and chat. Having a chat in the car is also a good way to connect on ‘boring’ school run trips.
- Reading together.
Try and spend time reading together every day. Engaging over a book is quality time, but only special time if your child chooses this activity without any prompting from you.
- Work on a shared interest together.
This might be reading a book together, completing a project, planting a vegetable garden etc.
- Play with them.
Use the opportunity to play like a child with humour, fun and less inhibition. Play video games, watch cartoons, play board games, have pillow fights, make a fort, play imaginative games etc.
- Have Family Time.
Make sure that there is time every weekend when you do things as a family and go on fun adventures when you can. They will learn the importance of prioritising family time and will enjoy the sense of connection associated with this.
For kids who do not have sensory issues, take advantage of the physical closeness that they are keen to share while they are still young. Physical affection is an important part of making our kids feel loved and valued.
There is no mystery to feeling connected.
You do not need any books or special materials.
If you can create a space where you enjoy your time with your kids and they have a sense that you are enjoying them, the foundation for ‘connecting’ is firmly in place.