10 Minutes a Day to Better Behaved kids
Would you like to build a closer bond to your children? Would you like to know what happens in their day when you are not around? Would you like to have better-behaved children?
Special time is an activity to bring you closer to your children.
From personal experience, I have found that this activity has brought me closer to both my children and helped me understand how they are feeling. Along with the benefits it has had for me, special time gives children the attention they crave and power to be in charge making them feel important.
Spend at least 10 minutes uninterrupted time every day (and if you can twice a day) per child doing what your child wants to do.
This means your child chooses the activity to play together with you. For example, if my daughter wants to play Barbies and as we are playing, she wants to pretend she is the mum and we have the most random conversation (with her telling me what to say), I let her, and I say what she asks. Or when colouring in and they want to colour in my picture with an unmatching colour while going outside the lines. I let them with a smile on my face however my perfectionist personality is screaming quietly inside WHY!
I learnt this strategy from Amy McCready Founder & Parenting Coach of Positive Parenting Solutions. You can read Amy's blog about it here. Amy refers to it as Mind, Body and Soul time which is when 'you fill your children’s attention baskets positively and proactively, your kids will become more cooperative and less likely to seek out attention in negative ways.'
You will also find you have better-behaved children and more time for you again.
My husband and I have found that this small addition to our life has changed the behaviour of our children drastically. They are getting their love and attention buckets filled daily so they are not misbehaving to get our attention. In addition, my kids open up to me a lot more about random events such as what happened at school or grandma’s house.
You are probably thinking, where am I going to get 10 minutes per child, my day is already busy as it is. Well I thought the same thing, but what I realised is that Special time was an investment rather than a cost to my own time.
I found that after having special time with me, my children would spend a lot more time playing together or by themselves as their attention buckets have been filled and are not looking at me to entertain them.
Special time will soon become the favourite part of everyone’s day
The best outcome of Special Time for me is that the kids ask me daily for special time and tell me that it is one of these favourite parts of the day. They even choose to have special time with me instead of watching television quite often.
5 Simple Steps on How to Have Special Time
- Announce to your child that it is time for special time (it is important to label the time so that they know), if it is not labelled and you spend them with them, they may not consider that special time
- Ask your child what they would like to do for special time - if they are unsure you can offer suggestion such as colouring, play dough, science experiments, cars, outside play
- Set and start the timer for the special time amount
- Play with your child doing whatever they want until the timer beeps
- When the timer beeps thank your child for special time and let them know you look forward to having special time again and name the time that will be for example tomorrow (it is important to tell them when you will have special time with them as this is key that they know it will happen again)
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if my child cries after the timer beep at the end of special time?
This is a common occurrence, especially the first few times that you do special time with your child.
They are crying because they do not want the time to end as they enjoyed spending the dedicated uninterrupted time with you. Most likely they are not developed enough to tell you that they had a such a good time and want for it to keep going in a calm and controlled voice.
Re-assure your child that you enjoyed having special time with them and you look forward to doing it again and tell them the time, then walk away. By telling them the time you will do it again they know that they will get more dedicated time with you.
Be sure whatever time you commit with them you follow through as this builds trust with your child.
What do I do if my husband/wife/partner does not want to have special time with the kids?
That is ok, as long as you continue to have special time it can have the same effects. Often when a partner sees the results the other is getting, they jump on board.
I recommend not forcing or arguing over the point as it will only build unnecessary tension in the house. Also, if they feel forced to do it with the kids, the kids can sense the person does not want to hence the benefits of special may not play out.
Can we watch tv, play video games or use technology during special time?
For younger kids, I do not recommend technology or TV for special time as doing an activity with them such as a puzzle, pretend play and so forth helps build a closer bond and you can chat away during the time.
For teenagers, technology may be the way start to help them get used to the special time activity. Though I do recommend moving away from this once in the routine of special time.
My kids are teenagers and they are not interested in special time with me, what do I do?
Your teenager is not used to having special time with and may view it as a ploy from you to get something. The key is to find something that your teenager enjoys doing such as video games, watching TV, baking. A great idea for mother/daughter activity was going to the nail salon and getting a manicure or pedicure together.
During special time avoid over questioning, judging or lecturing them. Listen to what they want, laugh and enjoy the moment.
With consistent special time they will warm and love having that time with you and you can move away from technology and spend time doing an activity where they chat and open up to you.