Becky Harlan, the visuals editor for Life Kit, spends “special time” with her son August Grabowsky, age 2. Children’s health doctors claim that this type of child-directed activity can be effective in treating children’s disruptive behavior. hidden caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR
switch to caption August Grabowsky, her 2-year-old son, is given “special time” by his mother Becky Harlan. Photo by Meredith Rizzo/NPR Life Kit. Children’s health doctors claim that this type of child-directed activity can be effective in treating children’s disruptive behavior.
NPR/Meredith Rizzo Do you still have any childhood memories? The day was so heavily influenced by adults. Get up. Put on clothes. You should floss. have your morning meal. Enter the vehicle. attend a school.
Kids occasionally follow directions, and occasionally they don’t. And it can be incredibly upsetting for parents when they don’t.
So how can parents encourage their children to obey more often? Even though it may seem paradoxical, engaging your child in brief, daily bouts of child-led play is one method that pediatricians frequently advise.
According to Roger Harrison , a pediatric psychologist with Nemours Children’s Health in Wilmington, Delaware, “special time” allows young children a chance to interact with their parents without the burden of having to follow instructions — which in turn, improves the bond between them.
CPR KIT “Special time” expands the window of opportunity for parent-child intimacy. According to him, as that relationship grows, there is a greater chance that a youngster will appreciate or pay attention to what a parent has to say.
The idea, which was created by psychologist Sheila Eyberg in the 1970s, is straightforward. Sit down with your child and participate in an activity with them for at least 5 minutes each day. Anything that doesn’t have a right or wrong way to play (like computer games), says child psychologist Kerrie Murphy , including drawing, playing with dolls, and building blocks. This is your child’s time to lead, so refrain from asking them questions or giving them orders.
This type of playtime has been found in studies to be effective in treating children’s disruptive behavior. Parent-child interaction therapy, which includes special time, has reportedly been hailed as a “successful intervention for a plethora of emotional and behavioral disorders” ever since it was created in the 1970s, according to a 2017 review of literature . Additionally, it has been demonstrated to improve kids’ social skills and attention spans.
Read our helpful instructions below if you’re ready to try special time with your child.
WHEN DOING SPECIAL TIME, ABIDE BY “PRIDE” During a particular period, August piles Legos. Psychologists advise giving children specific praise when participating in this activity with them, especially for actions you’d like to see more of. For instance, you might say, “I’m really astonished by how many bricks you piled! “instead of, “Good job!” hidden caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR
switch to caption NPR/Meredith Rizzo During a particular period, August piles Legos. Psychologists advise giving children specific praise when participating in this activity with them, especially for actions you’d like to see more of. For instance, you might say, “I’m really astonished by how many bricks you piled! “instead of, “Good job!”
NPR/Meredith Rizzo Parents and caregivers can remember the tenets of child-led play when participating in special time by using the term “PRIDE” as Researchers developed . To reinforce proper behaviors, these measures encourage adults to imitate their children, to provide them positive reinforcement, and to overlook slight disobedience. As you play with your child, keep these instructions in mind.
While you play together, compliment your youngster specifically. ‘ Say “I admire the way you stack those blocks high” instead of “excellent work,” advises Harrison, “since youngsters hear it all day long.” Put your attention on the actions you want to see more of and offer encouraging words. For instance, you might remark, “Thank you for letting me take a turn,” if a little child approaches you and encourages you to dress up a doll first.
Verbally mimic some of what your youngster says as they play. Harrison says, “If they say “and it crashes,” I’m going to say “and it crashes.” Repetition demonstrates to your youngster that you are paying attention and that you understand them. Pay close attention to the conversation you want to hear more of. You might respond, “You’re reading a book!” if they say, “I’m reading a book,” for instance.
CPR KIT Participate in your kid’s parallel play. You stack Legos if they are doing it. You make crayon dots on paper if they are making crayon dots on paper. Your youngster will see that you are having fun with them.
They’ll let you know if they don’t want you to copy them. Harrison declares, “They’re going to give me instructions, and during special time I’m going to follow those instructions.” Children don’t feel like they have enough authority in a society where adult demands rule. To have you join them in this way may not mean much to you as the parent, but it means everything to the child. It is for this reason that special time is restorative.
Harrison advises you to describe what your child is doing as if you were a sportscaster calling a game. Also keep in mind that sportscasters do not “coach the game” or direct the players. For an audience, they describe what they are witnessing.
So feel free to discuss your child’s activity when you are sitting with them. You might exclaim, “You just put an orange block on top of your towering structure!” to your child if they place an orange block on top of their tower, for instance. This once again shows that you are interested in what they are doing.
To demonstrate to August that she is interested in what he is doing as he plays with his Legos, Harlan narrates his actions. hidden caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR
switch to caption NPR/Meredith Rizzo To demonstrate to August that she is interested in what he is doing as he plays with his Legos, Harlan narrates his actions.
Meredith Rizzo for NPR E: Interest
When playing with your child, be enthusiastic by grinning, clapping, or using your voice to say you’re having fun. So you could comment, “Wow, you clothed your doll in such vivid colors!” if you watch them do a puzzle or dress up their doll. I had the best time choosing this clothing with you!” and high-five them.
What matters, according to Harrison, is that you’re “authentically signaling to your child that you’re interested and thrilled to be with them through verbal and nonverbal cues.”
CPR KIT THE BEST ACTIVITIES AND TOYS FOR SPECIAL TIMES Play with toys that promote creativity or imagination, advises Harrison. That includes simple arts and crafts like sketching or coloring with crayons as well as construction toys like blocks, magnetic tiles, vehicles, railway systems, kitchens, and play food.
Avoid games with a lot of rules, like board games, and toys that encourage rough or messy play, such pretend painting or sword fighting, advises Murphy. The goal is to stay out of situations where you might need to give your child instructions or admonish them to “be careful,” she continues.
WHO SUITABLE FOR SPECIAL TIME As August plays, Harlan claps to let him know that she’s enjoying herself. hidden caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR
switch to caption As August plays, Harlan claps to let him know she’s enjoying herself, Meredith Rizzo/NPR.
NPR/Meredith Rizzo Children between the ages of 2 and 7 should have special time. According to Murphy, every household caregiver, including the parents, grandparents, uncles, and other relatives, should alternate spending quality time with each child at home. Each youngster so has a chance to experience encouraging attention from the people in their lives. Also keep in mind that it’s a one-on-one experience, so if you have two children, don’t combine their special time.
WHAT TO DO SPECIAL TIME, FOR HOW LONG, AND WHEN Harrison advises establishing daily routines that include spending at least 5 minutes of special time with your child each day, ideally a little before bedtime to help them unwind.
Also keep in mind that, according to Murphy, adults initially find the practice to be embarrassing. However, after a week or two, you’ll notice that your child doesn’t want it to end. That is concrete evidence already.
Summer Thomad was responsible for this episode’s audio production. Malaka Gharib altered the digital narrative. Please get in touch with us. Call 202-216-9823 and leave a message for us, or send us an email at.