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Child Centered Special Time

The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five "Difficult" Types of Children By Stanley I. Greenspan, Jacqueline Salmon, Jacrueline Salmon see related

Child Centered Special Time
A Technique from The Challenging Child

  • Set aside 20 minutes a day for special time. No interruptions.
  • Set out toys your child likes to explore and try new things. Choose toys that are more open-ended than structured.
  • Let your child know they are getting special time. Get on the floor with them. Stay close to your child so you can see each other’s faces.
  • Let your child take the lead and choose what happens. Anything is OK unless it’s unsafe or destructive. Discover what your likes to do, what they want you to do. Respond, but don’t take over the play.
  • WATCH, WAIT & WONDER. Enter your child’s world. Observing is the first step to good listening and understanding.
  • Watch what your child seeks to play with and try to pick toys that facilitate further exploration and interactions. Go with the direction they are leading.
  • Don’t clean up until a child is finished with toys or until special time is over, or unless the child is over-stimulated by the toys.
  • Talk with your child about what you see them doing. Be like a sports reporter. “You’re throwing the ball.” “Look how you like to run.”
  • Have fun! Enjoy special time.
  • Special time is not teaching time. Avoid praising or setting limits. This is a time for exploration and bonding.
  • Notice and reflect upon any strong feelings you are having.
  • Let your child know clearly when special time is coming to a close and when it is over. Be aware if your child is disappointed the special time is over and let them know you care they are disappointed.
  • Try to do special time every day, especially when times are stressful.
  • If you have other children, try to set aside some special time for them too.
  • Take at least 20 minutes a day for yourself to rest and relax.


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