When my kids were small they wanted to play with me all the time. Now that they are all grown up I often think back to the days when they were young. I often ask myself these questions, “Did I give them enough of my time? Did they have the carefree, magical childhood that I wanted them to have?” I never wonder if they had enough after school activities or homework or soccer and piano lessons. Yes those things are important but playing with them and being with them is so much more important.
We know that children thrive when they are given our full attention. But giving full attention isn’t always easy. Parents often get so preoccupied with their tasks that they give only a partial encounter, if any at all.
When my kids were preschool age I tried a technique called “special time”. Each day I set aside 15 or 20 minutes for each child. During that time I gave my child my full, undivided attention. Nothing short of a fire or earthquake took me away from our play and we played whatever my kids wanted to play. I set a timer and let the kids know that we could play whatever they wanted until the timer went off. You can play anything for 15 minutes. Sometimes we would play longer until I was taken away by a task or phone call. I played with one kid while the baby was napping and when the baby got older we had our special time while the older one was doing homework.
Giving your child time each day allows for a “genuine encounter” which directly impacts your child’s self esteem and serves to strengthen the parent/child relationship that most hope will last a lifetime. Regular play times can unite you and your children, free you from stress, and enable you to truly love and appreciate each other.
Think about how you will feel when your kids are grown and gone. When you are wondering about the kind of time you did or did not spend with them. Everyone always told me that kids grow up so fast and its true they do. It happens in the blink of an eye.
So I encourage you to try and connect with your kids in a more meaningful way. You do not have to call it special time or even set a timer. Everyone will find his or her own way of playing and connecting. It’s a habit worthy of developing.
Fondly Mrs. Nowicki