Whilst talking about 3 Strategies for Busy Moms , I spoke about setting apart a little time every day to focus on communicating with your child. I called this time Special Time. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, Special Time can be very valuable to your child (and to you!).
What do I mean by a Special Time?
I mean a planned, set apart period of time where you put away all other distractions, and spend time with your child. In this time, you follow your child’s lead. Most importantly, you need to observe how your child is communicating with you, and listen!
Hand in Hand parentclub also has some great info about Special Times, more specifically with children who are dysfluent. Go check it out!
Let’s first go into Why a special time is so important.
Parent/caregiver child relationship is extremely important for your child’s development. It not only exposes them to language, but it also gives them a safe haven from which to explore the world. A child who feels secure at home, is usually more confident when exploring and learning.
Whilst most parents and caregivers want to spend as much time as possible with their children, time is often limited. And even the time that you do have with your child, iis usually filled with tasks that need to be completed: Mealtimes, Bathing, etc. When it’s time to relax, the obvious choice is to watch a child friendly programme on TV, and then it’s bedtime.
Schedules are so packed, that one on one, focused interaction is sometimes left out. If you have more than one child, this gets even more difficult!
Enter Special Time.
Time is obviously an issue for most people, which is why special time is so important in the first place. I would suggest setting apart at least 5 – 10 minutes for your Special Time. Plan it on a daily basis. If it’s 10 minutes whilst a sibling takes a bath, that’s fine. Put on a timer, and for that time, put away all distractions. No interruptions from other family members, no cellphone, no TV. That time is sacred to your child.
Try to make time for each child on a daily basis. You can also take turns with your partner to have this time. I’ve seen that bathtime and bedtime are good opportunities, especially if bedtimes differ. For example, one day dad baths the kids. Whilst he’s busy bathing, mom can have special time. You can swap around the next day. Having both parents take part in special time is also a wonderful thing. Staggering bedtimes gives a good opportunity for this if you have more than one child.
Follow the Leader
In this case, your child is the leader! Make this a no screen time, but with the exception of that rule, allow your child to choose what he wants to do. If it’s reading a book with you, great. If it’s playing farm, great. If it’s just sitting and chatting, great! Allowing your child to lead you in an activity means that your child’s attention will be on it, and Special Time will be enjoyable.
During this 5 – 10 minutes, respond to your child with warmth. Of course this shouldn’t be inconsistent to the rest of the day! But during most other times, it’s easy to get distracted, and discipline needs to be kept, and there are tasks to be done. But in this time, all attention is on your child. Let him know that he’s loved!
Respond to your child’s utterances with enthusiasm and all your interest. Laugh, hug and tickle them. Make it a happy time for them. If their speech isn’t as intelligible as you’d like it, of if they use the wrong sentence structure, you can model the correct way to say it, but don’t correct and have your child practise sounds during special time. It’s all about communication, and speech doesn’t need to be perfect for a connection to take place!
To start a habit, experts tell us that we need to continue with something for three weeks. If you want to start making a habit of your Special Time, you can Download your free 21 day Special Times Printable here!
Let me know how your Special Times are going, and how it affects both you and your child!