When was the last time you spent 15 minutes of interrupted time with your child? For lots of parents who are spinning a thousand plates – work, life admin, trying to keep a child (or multiple children) alive – it’s pretty hard to remember.
Finding the time to just sit down and play can often feel like an impossible task, especially if your child is in nursery or at school all day. They come home and it’s dinner, downtime, bath and bed, while you’re trying to juggle a billion other tasks. Meanwhile the mornings are just one chaotic mess.
But carving out 10-20 minutes a day for one-on-one time could work wonders for your child – and it could deeply benefit you too, as parenting coaches swear it improves children’s behaviour.
The voiceover for the video explained: “If there’s one thing I can encourage you to do with your kids ... it’s to plan and spend regular scheduled special time with your children – one-on-one time each day that they can count on that you set aside especially for them.”
The parenting coach recommends spending 10-30 minutes of uninterrupted time with your child. If you’ve got two kids it might look like 15 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time each. Or if you’ve got more than two children, you could stick to 10 minutes each.
If the child’s other parent lives at home, you could alternate each day so you both get to spend quality time with your child. This “special time” doesn’t have to be at the same time every day either – you can chop and change.
While it might be tempting to get the dishes or some washing done after dinner and sit the kids in front of the TV, swapping this out for some one-on-one time, even if it’s just a few days a week, could have a big impact.
As toddler experts Deena Margolin, a licensed child therapist, and Kristin Gallant, a parent coach, previously told HuffPost: “Even if we’re with our kids all day long, carving out focused, dedicated one-on-one time is an absolute game-changer.”
They suggested as little as 10 minutes a day can work a dream – and this tip seems to suit all ages, from toddlers right up to older kids.
It’s agreed what you do together should be creative, active and open ended, rather than playing board games, reading or using screens.
Let your child guide you. They might want to play with toys, or engage in imaginative play. Laugh and be silly, put your phone in the other room and just enjoy each other’s company. Try not to teach or correct your child during this time either – just let them be.
Sarah Rosensweet, a parenting coach in Toronto, previously told Today’s Parent these scheduled bursts of uninterrupted time deepen our connection with our kids, help us empathise with them and can improve behaviour. The idea being that your child won’t act out for attention, because you’re already giving it them.
“Our children really need to feel that we see them, that we understand them, and that they matter,” she said.
“When they feel connected to us they want to be more cooperative. Our strong relationship with them is ultimately the most powerful way we can influence them.”