Special Time: the best advice you'll ever get



If I had a magic wand for parents, it would be this: daily special time.


SPECIAL TIME is simple: 15 minutes every day to be alone with your child. It is time alone for a parent and child with NO interruptions.  

Your child gets to choose any activity that can reasonably fit within 15 minutes. Your child should decide what the activity will be.  It might be a time to play together, or your child might want you to watch while he or she does an activity. 

SPECIAL TIME is a time to be responsive and relaxed—not to teach or even to entertain. The parents’ job is to follow the child’s lead—which is not always easy.

It works best to use a timer to mark the beginning and end of the 15 minutes.  That way you don’t have to check your watch, and it is the bell that signals time is up.  SPECIAL TIME should not be open ended, because if you change the amount of time each day your child will feel deprived if you have less time some days.  If you want to continue playing past 15 minutes, you tell your child that you have to do something for a few minutes, take a quick break, and then resume play—but it is no longer SPECIAL TIME. 


Every day, if possible. (If you find you are not able to set aside 15 minutes at least five days a week, notice how you are spending other time at home. You might notice that you are spending more than 15 minutes each day nagging!) SPECIAL TIME usually frees up extra time that was lost in conflicts. Parents  often don't realize how many minutes they are spending on activities that can be postponed or even eliminated. 

Two common questions: 

Suppose my child wants to watch TV or play on the computer?

Say no.  Screen time doesn't allow the kind of interaction that SPECIAL TIME is all about.

Suppose my child wants to play a game or do something that takes

longer than 15 minutes?

You can play part of the game or continue it the next day.  If you

change the length of SPECIAL TIME (at least in the beginning) it may seem

negotiable and unpredictable—a set up for conflict instead of fun.