Are you and your child in a constant power struggle? Do you spend more time arguing with your child than not? When you try to change your child’s behavior, do you get lots of backtalk and resistance? These may be symptoms that the relationship between you and your child is super strained and not growing. Yes, it could also be a phase that your child (or you) is going through, but either way spending regular quality time together can improve the situation. In this post, I’ll explain how the Positive Discipline tool of “special time” makes the top of my list for parenting tools that affect child behavior.
In my recent article, Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013, I listed my favorite parenting tools and promised that I’d write a more in-depth article on each one of the tools. Here’s the first article.
Common Parenting Problem – Discipline Without Relationship
Think about a past teacher, boss, mentor that you admire – a person whom you respect and someone from whom you learned a lot. Odds are that this person was good at building a relationship with you. There are exceptions to every principle, but when it comes to teaching people anything, relationship is the superglue that bonds our life altering experiences – our growth.
For some parents, it’s hard to understand how relationship and discipline fit together. You may not have experienced or witnessed many examples of this in your life. Some of us were taught to believe that including the relationship in discipline is counterproductive because it’s “soft” and takes away from the firmness required in discipline. But the truth is that we learn best from those we trust.
Think about your adult relationships. If you called your spouse, adult friend, significant other to ask them to stop by the store and pick up some tomatoes on the way home, what would they say? If your relationship is going well, they’d most likely say, “Sure, how many? What kind?” If however the two of you have been arguing for the past three days, you might get a different response, “You called to ask me a favor? After all the things you’ve said to me lately?” It’s the same with kids and with all of your relationships.
Keeping the Relationship Glued Together
An ounce of superglue bonding is worth a pound of improved behavior. The secret is to apply an ounce regularly. Strong relationships are formed over time though repeated positive interactions. That’s why the tool of special time recommends scheduling one-on-one time between parent and child at least once a week for children ages 6 and up. This is like a weekly date of 45 minutes to an hour in which parent and child spend quality time together. For children younger than age 6, it’s recommended that parent and child spend 10-15 minutes a day in one-on-one time.
Making It Happen – Special Time with Children
Three simple tips will help you implement one-on-one time regularly with your child.
- Schedule It: Put your special time on the calendar. If you can find a time that is the same each week, it really helps.
- Try Different Things: You’ll get to know your child better if you see him or her in different situations. Play a board game at home one week, go to a park and swing another week, ride bikes around the neighborhood another time. Maybe take turns choosing the activity.
- No Lectures or Life Lessons Allowed: Special time is a time to simply enjoy your child and get to know your child. Special time isn’t an opportunity to discuss grades, messy rooms or sibling arguments. Do more listening than talking and it’s okay if no one’s talking too.
“We do Panera Bread a lot, just sitting and talking. I think that because I sit and I just listen, then she shares more. It’s opened up that communication. I also show interest in her interests. I sit with her sometimes when she watches videos. She loves to draw and I ask questions about her drawings.”
– Kim Phillips, mother of a 10 year old daughter
Examples and Ideas for Special Time
Your imagination is the only limit for what you’ll do during special time. I’ve been having special time with my kids since they were preschoolers. They are now ages 19 and 16. I’ll list some of my favorite ideas and then I’ll provide links to some web articles I’ve written about special time. I hope you’ll try this tool and then reflect back after six weeks of spending one-on-one time with you child. I think you’ll notice a difference.
- Pack a picnic and take a bike ride together
- Take a board game to a restaurant and play while you sip fun drinks (I’ve play chess at an indoor restaurant with my son and Sorry at an outdoor drive in type restaurant with my daughter.)
- Take a blanket, snack and deck of cards and sit by a lake
- Mom-Daughter tea party for two
- Spending quality time with teens: Positive Discipline tip using nostalgia
- Frankie’s Fun Park & $5.00
- Shakespeare Festival and pizza with a teen
Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer
Think It Through Parenting