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Learning Special Time together

This article describes ways of implementing Special Time with very small children.

Special Time explained:

  • Find a time 5-20 minutes that you can dedicate to one child.

  • Let your child know that you are having Special Time for ? minutes

  • Set a timer so you both know when it is over.

  • Give your child your undivided attention (no multitasking) and enthusiasm.

  • LET YOUR CHILD LEAD - your child decides, you follow.

  • Set limits only around immediate danger.

Because my older child is only 3 years old she demands a lot of attention and the baby of course needs a lot of hands on care and physical closeness. Somehow the baby often just seems to be attached to my hip without any real attention to her person. The older one however feels like she is pushed to the wayside, since she is not the baby anymore and does not get to be so close to momy. I felt guilty all the time, because I felt I had to always neglect one childs needs to tend to the other. It was a difficult emotional transition from one to two children, raising them in our modern isolation. Special time has really helped me in this transition. When my second baby was born my Special Time focus was on the older one, because she felt the deficit more than the baby, who never was an only child. But when I do find time to really focus all my love and attention on the baby, I can see how she begins to glow and finds a whole other stage of happiness, of being seen and responded to. So this is my journey of learning Special Time with my younger child.

My second daughter is 15 months old now. I have been implementing Hand in Hand tools for about one year. Special Time with my baby is something that we are still growing into. When she was very little I sometimes took 5 minutes with her lying on the bed and playing with our voices, going back and forth like in a conversation. (She still loves this game) Or she would be fascinated by my hand moving above her, or she would explore my face with her fingers.

Around one year old, I started to do more regular Special Time with her before I put her to bed. We would sit together on the bed and I would surround her with the books I know she likes. She would pick a book and hand it to me to read. Often the same book over weeks. She loved books that follow nursery rhymes, meaning I would sing them. After a while she would still like them but get impatient and wanted me to go through them faster, she would want to turn the pages and I would adjust to her preferred pace, trying to follow her lead - its Special Time. Sometimes we would do little kissing and snuggling games as well. After a while she would signal to nurse, my cue to turn off the light and nurse her to sleep, which was our routine.

Now - she is 15 months, I started to experiment with doing special time with each child when I am alone with both of them. The first few times my older one got very jealous and once the younger one jumped right on my lap when she realized there was attention handed out. Recently we have become quite accustomed to having 5 min Special Time each in the morning before I have to go to work. This is the most successful in the sense that they are able to wait for their turn. Probably because it is growing to become a routine. I would give Special Time to the child with more sensitivity that morning first. There is a lot of snuggling involved at this time of the day. A lot of I love you and you are my little baby for both of them. After the one with more need is stabilized I can focus on the second child who is already waiting for her turn. Sometimes I need to split my attention somewhat, but I try to keep it even. It really helps me to transition them into play in the morning after getting up. We all can start the day close and connected and I can get ready for work in peace without feeling bad to leave my children behind soon. I guess I need this morning Special Time as much as they do. :-)

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