Carving Out Time For Each Child
A common dilemma faced by almost all parents is how to find time in our busy lives to give each of our children special, quality time. This is especially difficult when you are the parent of children with special needs. But we also know that this special playtime can be invaluable to the parent-child relationship, and to the child’s self-esteem – all of which impact behavior in the home and the quality of family life for everyone. What I often tell parents is this – carving out time for each child does not have to be long and complicated. Often, spending 10 minutes each day or a few times each week can impact our children in powerful ways. We often think that we have to devote long periods of time, or take our children out of the house to do special things, for this time to be considered “quality time.” Not so! In fact, this particular mindset often creates a lot of guilt and feelings of being overwhelmed in parents.
Let’s review a couple of strategies that hopefully you will find to be realistic and manageable for you and your family.
- 10 minutes goes a long way! Provide undivided attention to your child for 10 full minutes; no screens or other distractions.
- Schedule special play times that make sense for your family.
- These 10 minutes can be anywhere – in the car, at bath time or bedtime, while waiting at the doctor’s office; anywhere you can give your child 10 minutes of your full attention.
- Identify an appropriate distraction for your other children.
- This is key to creating 10 minutes of undivided attention for the specific child.
- Create a situation where the other children can be safe and entertained while you are providing one-on-one attention to the specific child.
- Provide clear instructions ahead of time to the other children about what the expectations are during this 10 minutes.
- Allow your child to lead the play and choose the activity during this special play time.
- This is a time to show your child you are interested in what they are doing and who they are.
- If you are at home, sit on the floor to build Legos with them or draw with them for 10 minutes.
- If you are in the car, allow them to pick a song on the radio to sing together.
- Get excited about this special play time!
- Announce it to your child each time you are deliberately engaging in this special time with them.
- Get excited about it, and they will too!
Need more help?
This video originally appeared on the Parents Matter website. http://www.parentsmattertoo.org/how-do-i-carve-out-time-for-each-child/