This weekend, I was able to spend two whole days with just my son. It surprised me how I was able to connect with him in a way that is not usually possible when we are with the rest of our family.
I was able to see what he really wanted to do when the choice was all his. I came to understand his love of swords and robots, of which I previously had been somewhat unappreciative. I was also able to focus on his quirks and characteristics, to fully realize those unique traits that exhibit themselves every day but often get glossed over with the busyness of the day.
Our weekend was great, but normally our one-on-one time together is not that intense though I try to set aside a few minutes every day to connect with my son. One-on-one time is a great way to share pleasant time together, and scheduling daily one-on-one time (even if only a few minutes) is a great way to shape our days to ensure a routine of regular connection.
One-on-one time allows me to be fully present with my child and learn more of who he truly is, without as much of life's distractions at least for a few minutes. It may not seem like it, but these few minutes a day goes a long way toward working together and solving problems when my child is in need of guidance.
To strengthen our relationship, I have learned that I must habitually find time to be alone with my child and focused on our connection. Here are some of my ideas that I hope help you in creating special, one-on-one time with your child:
- Make it regular - Find time, at the same time each day, and stick to it. Make it a regular part of your routine.
- Follow the child's lead - Let your child decide the use of the time. It may feel awkward at first, or you may struggle to enjoy it sometimes, but it's worth it for your child.
- Keep it short - Aim for at least a few minutes of uninterrupted time each day. As you get accustomed to this, try adding more time as it works.
- Encourage time for both parents - Ideally, your child will have one-on-one time with both parents. This may not be possible if the other parent doesn't live in the same house as you.
- Listen - Try to limit your talking to simply asking questions and using reflective listening statements. Let your child lead the conversation. Sometimes, there may not be much talking; that's OK! Just being together is enough. With older kids and teens, it's important that one-on-one time with you is a safe time to talk without being judged and they can bring up any topic and know that they'll be heard and supported.
In the presence of a trusted adult, kids feel free to be themselves. They feel comfortable and confident in expressing who they are when they know they will not be criticized. It is important that we give kids as much opportunity to express themselves through both language and behavior, and for us to appreciate their interests. Having regular one-on-one time with our children allows us to get to know them.
What time during the day works best for you to spend a few focused minutes with your child?