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Spend Special Time with Your Child

A big part of establishing appropriate expectations involves really knowing your child. How do you learn her? You put in quality, undiluted, alone time with her.

It's a Good Idea!

Understanding a problem is the hardest part of solving it.

It's a Good Idea!

Don't neglect Special Time with your older children when there's a new baby in the house. I know, you're up to your eyeballs in diapers, milk, and sleep-deprivation. All the more reason to focus a little attention on the older kids.

Special Time with Your Child

Special Time is one-on-one time-one parent and one child. Family togetherness is very important, but don't ever sacrifice your time alone with each child. To effectively teach discipline, you need to establish that special rapport. Besides, most parents find that tensions dissipate, boundaries fall, and troubles fly away-at least until special time is over. Special time is:

  • Best if it's regular.
  • Fun when it's spontaneous.
  • Dangerous when it always involves food treats.
  • Not special time when it involves errands, “have-tos,” or make-work.

Special time is an opportunity to hang out, or do special activities with your child. Special time pays off-in closeness, in rapport, in stress reduction. It's a minivacation. It needs to be special. Don't confuse special time with the casual conversations you have while you're folding laundry. Special time is supposed to be fun. No chores allowed.

Special Time Ideas

Stumped? Let these ideas generate ones of your own:

  • A monthly downtown lunch date complete with fountain Cokes at the old drugstore.
  • A trip to somewhere you've never been (an aviation museum at the airport, the race track, a tour of the city sewer system, a working milk farm).
  • A midnight pizza run!
  • The movies, with a slow stroll afterwards to chat about it. Rushing there and back (with the focus on the movie in the middle) doesn't fill the bill, Bill.
  • Sign up for a dance class together. A science class? An Italian class? Make sure the class meets a discussion-length drive away.
  • Turn on the sprinkler, and take turns getting soaked.
  • Take the A train. Take a ferry ride. Ride the metro to the end of the line and back.
  • Go horseback riding. Take a hike (take your child).
  • Surf (no, not the Net, the ocean!).
  • Be spontaneous. One day you'll look at little Paulette and know she needs special time, and she needs it now. Call in sick, cancel the appointments, turn off the phone ringer, get in your pajamas (yes, I know you just got dressed, but what the hay!), and climb into your bed with hot chocolate. Paulette will soon be spilling her guts (better her guts than her hot chocolate) and soon you'll both feel much better. When the sobs stop, then you can watch a video.

So, It's All About Confronting Issues and Gut Spilling?

No! No! No! And, of course! It is, and it isn't. Take the word confront out of it. Special time works like this: Remember that special time is fun time-fun without guilt. Sharing pleasant experiences will bring you emotionally closer to each other. Closeness leads to talking, if you don't push it. Let discussions bubble up like the fizz in freshly poured strawberry seltzer. Don't push for intimacy (it will push right back).


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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