Girl on Swing

That Magic 30 Minutes: One-on-One Time

September 3rd, 2013

The most important things you can give your child are your attention and your time. Especially when your child is feeling angry, aggressive, frustrated, or jealous of a sibling for a stretch of time, some of these intense feelings can be eased by one-on-one time with you. This one-on-one time doesn’t have to be doing a special activity or buying a toy—the best one-on-one time is playing together with the games and toys that your child wants to play with.

One-on-one time with your child at least two to three times per week for 30 minutes each time is a powerful connection for both you and your child. This special time can help your child feel less angry and more grounded and connected. Think of this as a date with your child. You might give it a special name, such as Together TimeDad and Daughter TimeMom and Madeline Time, or, as one four-year-old named it, Sparkle Time. Talk about it before—“I can’t wait to see what you want to do during our Rashid and Mom Time”—and talk about it after—“Clara, I smile every time I think of our Special Time together yesterday.”

All children want attention. If a child can’t get your attention in a positive way, sometimes your child would rather get your negative attention than get no attention at all. Sometimes when children are tantruming and angry, it is not clear if this is to get your attention negatively– which works! In order to ensure that this angry behavior is not negative attention-getting, being proactive about positive attention through one-on-one time can be very effective!

If there are siblings, this one-on-one time may be difficult to arrange, but if there are siblings, this one-on-one time is even more important.

During this one-on-one time be sure to engage in the play that your child chooses and be sure to listen and follow your child’s lead. Allow your child to be directing the play. This is a time to hang out together and for you to understand your child on a deeper level.

At every workshop I always talk about the importance of One-on-One Time. It is awesomely powerful. I have seen positive changes in a child’s challenging behavior after two to three weeks of One-on-One Time, several times a week, with Mom and/or Dad.

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