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Making “Special Time” For Your Children

Posted by Sinead Cowins on January 30, 2017
Spending time with your kids is essential to building unconditional positive regard and healthy relationships with them. It increases positive behaviors and build self-esteemEvery parent has two gifts that they are often unaware of: their time and their attention. Nonetheless, with our very busy schedules, our kids school days, their homework, and their extra-curricular activities, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spend quality time with them. Especially those of us who have bigger families. However, setting aside ten to fifteen minutes of quality time for your children each day can be priceless. It shows them that they are important, and that foremost, you enjoy being around them. The positive interactions that can occur during this “special time” are essential to building unconditional positive regard and healthy relationships with your kids. They can decrease oppositional behaviors, increase positive behaviors, and aid your children in building high self-esteem. 
Special time involves several aspects, all of which are simple and easy to do. To incorporate special time, here are a few guidelines to follow:
1. It should be one-on-one. 
Although special time can be extended to the whole family, it takes away from the individual attention that children with several siblings often yearn for. If possible, one-on-one special time is preferable.  
2. It should be planned ahead of time. 
This will involve you making personalized plans with each of your children and getting their input. Give them options. Find out what they would like to do and if it isn’t too outrageous, try to comply. 
3. There should be no distractions. 
To reinforce the idea that your child is important, their special time should be free of anything that may take your attention away from them. 
4. It should be interactive. 
It’s best to plan an activity that is collaborative, such as playing a board game, arts and crafts, going to the park, or even eating. Special time does not have to be expensive. Watching television, playing video games, or driving should be avoided, since they are all activities that involve minimal interaction. 
5. Only focus on positive things about your child.
Since many of the talks we have with our children involve what they did wrong, or what we dislike, it is important to praise their good qualities during special time. Teaching, correcting, and chastisement should be set aside for a more serious time. 
6. Lastly, it should be given consistently.
If possible, special time should be given every day, whether your child has behaved well or badly and shouldn’t be taken away as a punishment. 
Special time is invaluable and children truly begin to look forward to it. It provides them with the reassurance that their parents are available to them in a consistent and positive way and is one of the best ways to dedicate ten minutes of your time.

Howard BJ. 2002. Guidelines for special time. In Jellinek M, Patel BP, Froehle MC, eds., Bright Futures in Practice: Mental Health—Volume II. Tool Kit. Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health. 

Topics: Reading, Math, Education, Children, tutor, teacher, Attention

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