"Special time is priceless because it symbolizes the parent’s unconditional love for the child." - B.J. Howard
Life during COVID, ongoing lockdowns and endless transitions leads to increased stress for everyone. As humans our nervous systems are wired for connection and a sense of belonging. Safe and connected relationships are one of the most powerful strategies to reduce stress and support our children to manage stress and develop their self-esteem, emotional intelligence and resilience. Creating strong relationships and a sense of belonging within your family mitigates stress for all of you.
1:1 Connection Time
Time to talk. Time to listen. Time to play. Time to be together.
Resilience is found in safe and secure relationships. By spending 1:1 time with children, following their lead and interests, connecting with their world and their experiences, it allows them to feel seen, heard and understood. Time together builds a sense of trust and security in their relationship with you, which acts as a 'safe harbour' to weather the ups and downs of life. These moments of special time can help children explore and understand themselves and their emotions; develop connections between events in their lives and feel a sense of security.
Time to be present
Special time is about being with your child. Letting your child take the lead, playing and having fun with them. You will have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how your child perceives the world and their inner thoughts and feelings, which helps you to stay attuned, compassionate and empathetic to their experiences. Special time allows you to meet your child where they are at.
How to schedule in “special time”
Where possible, 10 minutes every couple of days or if this is unrealistic, 1-2 times a week.
Give your child your full attention. For children who enjoy playing, ask them what they would like to play. For older children, this may be joining them in their hobby, playing a game or going for a walk together.
Follow their lead and ideas. They may be using play to process and make sense of their worries, an event that happened or something that is coming up.
You can also take it in turns to choose the activity if there is a subject you would like to explore with your child.
If play is challenging or you have an older child, you may involve time in nature, sensory play, cooking, rough and tumble play or jumping on the trampoline.
You can set a timer and place all phones/devices in a different room so you both know that this time is for each other without interruption or distractions. Avoiding screens at this time - as the focus is on creating connection time with each other.
It doesn’t need to be “structured” with tasks such as colouring, puzzles or books. It is time to be flexible and to just be together.
How can you create special time between you and your child this week?
What relationships nourish you and give you a sense of connection and belonging?