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Why “Daily Special Time” Reduces Behavior Issues
By Noël Janis-Norton

If your child is continually acting up, he might be seeking solo time. Inspire cooperation and wipe out whining with “Daily Special Time,” including activities like walking the dog, running errands, and gardening.

Child special time

You may have heard the saying, “Children spell love T-I-M-E.”

Every child, with ADHD or not, needs to spend time alone with each parent. It doesn’t mean being in the same room together, with parent and child each involved in their own activity. It doesn’t mean taking them out for a treat.

“Special Time,” as I call it, means one parent spending time with one child, doing something they both enjoy that doesn’t cost money. The activity doesn’t take place in front of a screen. You should do it daily, if possible, for at least 10 minutes.

Daily Special Time reduces a child’s resistance, negative attention-seeking, and minor but exasperating behavior, including whining and fussing when things don’t go the way the child wants. Special Time works best when it is frequent and predictable, and labeled as that, so that your child can anticipate it.

Here are examples of how parents have woven Special Time into their days:

1. Prepare a meal. Whenever you’re cooking, give one child a job to do. At first, make sure it’s a short job, so that the child doesn’t lose interest, and an easy job, to boost confidence. Share your knowledge and skills without lots of off-putting instructions. Say aloud all the thoughts that you would ordinarily keep inside your head, and solicit help: “I wonder if we’re out of onions. Can you check for me?” or “The vegetables should be ready by now. Let’s test them and see.” Very soon your child will respond with his own comments and try to be helpful.

2. Walk the dog. This is a perfect opportunity to chat or be together in companionable silence. You can make a game of noticing what you see: houses, shops, animals, flowers, and trees.

3. Do an errand. Take one of your children with you on an errand, and then involve your child in the task you have gone to do. Before you leave the house for a shop, make sure your child knows that she will have a role to play: something she will need to search for, choose, carry, or ask for.

4. Garden together. If you have a garden, or even a window box, involve one child at a time in planting seeds, pulling weeds, and deadheading flowers. As children help with gardening chores, they start to understand what it takes to maintain a garden and property, and they’ll respect their home more.


Excerpted from Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, by NOEL JANIS-NORTON. Copyright 2012. Penguin Group Inc.

Updated on August 8, 2018

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