When your child doesn’t want to do special time

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Special time; one of the five Hand in Hand Parenting tools, is a wonderful way to deepen your connection with your child, to build the safety they need to tell us their feelings. This 1-1 time following your child’s lead is something all children crave, and they will usually embrace the chance to do whatever they choose and soak up your loving attention.

So if you offer your child some special time and they say no it can leave you feeling confused and frustrated. Why on earth would a child choose not to do something they love with you?

Sometimes children feel particularly disconnected. Their feeling of hurt is so strong that it stands in the way of being with you. When my daughter say no to special time, it’s often because I’ve been unavailable for a while. And so she’ll tell me about the rejection she felt in the only way she knows how; by rejecting me.

Our children are hopeful, and forgiving so even if things have been tough, they won’t hold it against us for long. With a bit of fun and effort, they’ll soon open up, and want to be with us again.

If your young child is refusing special time; try this. Get a stuffed toy and beg them to do special time. You could have the toy say something funny like, ”I think you’re right not to do special time with your stinky mummy, lets run away and do special time by ourselves.”

Then have the toy run away with your toy and chase them saying, ”hey, that’s not fair. I want to do special time.” Playlistening games like this melt the ice and make it more likely your child will say yes next time.

If your child refuses to do special time, even with the stuffed toy, have the toy hide in a box, or pillow and then ‘sneak up’ on your child, to spend time with them, doing whatever they are doing. Follow where your mind takes you, and see how you can use play, and giggles, to reconnect.

Another tactic that also works well, particularly with older children is to try some ‘unannounced’ special time.

Life happens, our connection can get frayed, but with a few fun games at the ready, we can get back to joyful connection again.

For more ideas on how to reconnect after difficult times you might also want to check out my article Healing Broken Connections.

The Power Of Saying Yes

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This week I was wondering why my daughter and I were feeling disconnected from each other. We’d been busy, and so much of my time was spent figuring out how to get us out the door, how to use giggles to get her to co-operate etc.

Suddenly I was realising that I was focusing so much on what to do to ‘make’ my daughter laugh, that I was forgetting about the other Hand in Hand parenting tools!

After my daughter came back from her playgroup I decided that the rest of the day would be a ‘yes’ day – a simply and powerful concept I read about on the Abundant Mama’s blog.

I felt like I’d been in a battle all week to control screentime, so the first thing I decided to do was let my daughter watch the screen for as long as she wanted. I realised that I actually do want her to get to know the feeling of having ‘too much screen,’ so that instead of me telling her why it’s important to get off the screen she can actually feel the effects for herself, and judge for herself.

After two hours my daughter came to me and asked for special time. I decided we would do a longer hour special time. We played Lego and made pretend birthday parties for each other, by wrapping up her toys.

There was not a single power struggle, simply because I’d let go of my need to control, and in it’s place came connection. We simply enjoyed each other’s company.

I think there are important times when we should set limits, that Hand in Hand covers in their free setting limits e-book. But children need us to say yes a lot of the time. When we learn how to listen, our children can release the feelings that get in the way of their thinking. Then they can actually have good judgement. We can help build, happy, confident children when we trust their thinking, and respect their choices.

Yesterday was a ‘yes’ day, and I’m thinking how I can incorporate more and more ‘yes’s’ in our lives. It’s not always easy,  life puts many constraints on us, so that we are sometimes forced to say no. But living lives with more freedom, joy and ‘yes’s’ is my aim!

The tools from Hand in Hand parenting really do work, and often what’s happening when they aren’t working is that we’re neglecting one or more of the tools. So if you’re having a challenging day, or week, you can ask yourself, which tool aren’t I using? Which one would help now?

If you’re new to Hand in Hand, you can read all about the parenting tools here

Want to know more about how and when to say no to children? Check out Hand in Hand parenting’s online self study course on setting limits