This guest post was written by Lisa Reichelt, M.ED, Parent Coach at Champion Your Parenting. She is an educator, wife, mother, and grandmother with over 40 years experience helping families. She believes parenting is a daunting task and is eager to help strengthen family relationships. Find her at www.ChampionYourParenting.com.
You hear it all the time: “Kids need to spend more time outdoors!” Great advice, but have you ever wondered how to really make it happen? Your kids want to be on devices, watch TV or just lay around the house. They complain that “there’s nothing to do outside.”
Unless you are blessed with the perfect neighborhood full of kids, you probably need help getting your child out the door and into nature. It may not be as simple as telling them to go outside and play.
Here’s the help you need. Start adding One-On-One Time to your weekly activities. One-On-One Time consists of 8-15 minutes set aside to spend with just one child. You spend time with them doing something they enjoy. This practice strengthens your relationship by letting your child see how important they are to you.
Your child feels special because they have you all to themselves. It improves your communication with your child and helps you to really know how they think and what they feel. Your children becomes mentally and emotionally stronger as your relationship deepens.
Ideally, One-On-One Time would happen every day. That is a good goal to shoot for, but not necessary for beginners. Start with 3-5 times a week. Also, depending on how many children you have, One-On-One Time may need to be less frequent. But don’t give up on it just because you can’t do it everyday. Time spent with each child individually is a powerful parenting tool. It’s like putting money in the bank for when you have to discipline or correct them.
How To Get Started
Basically you get started by just doing it! Choose today to spend 8-15 minutes with each child giving them your undivided attention. Tell them this is their One-on-One Time. See how it works and be ready to adjust your time as needed.
One-on-One time can be a casual time together or a short activity you do with one another. Ask your child to pick something to do and join them in that activity they enjoy. If necessary, set a timer because ending One-on-One Time is important so that it doesn’t become burdensome. Remember that the goal is to make good connections with your child in short, repetitive encounters. You can still engage in activities that take more time, just don’t call it One-on-One Time.
One-on-One Time is quality time and the “quality” part of it depends on your level of attention. Children are very insightful; they recognize when adults are giving them their full attention or not. During your time together, be sure to leave devices off and out of sight. That helps you avoid multitasking. Listen carefully so that your child knows you are not distracted. Make good eye contact and give your child the highest quality attention possible. They will respond with joy!
Tips To Make One-on-One Time Work
- Keep other children occupied.
- If other children interrupt, dock time during their One-on-One Time (enforce this and they’ll quickly learn).
- Put younger children to bed first.
- Praise good behavior and ignore minor misbehavior (One-on-One Time should be a positive interaction).
- Have a few ideas handy in case your child can’t think of anything.
If you need a way to “kickstart” your One-On-One Time, check out this 21 Day Challenge. You’ll receive a reminder email each day with great activity suggestions for younger and older kids. It will become a new habit in your family.
One-On-One Time In Nature
You may wonder how One-On-One Time helps you get your kids outdoors. Well, here is the connection. You can decide that being out in nature is the best way to spend your One-On-One Time. Your child can still choose what you do, but think of ways to take the activity outdoors. If they want to read a book, take it to the porch. If they want to play a board game, set up a card table in the yard. The options are endless.
The more you spend time outdoors, the more you’ll want to find other ways to enjoy nature. Connecting with nature has many benefits. It calms us, teaches us to experience the awe of nature and reduces stress.
Combining your One-On-One Time with time spent in nature gives you a triple benefit. In the end, your child grows to love the outdoors, you deepen your relationship with them, and you both create wonderful memories. It will make a world of difference in your family life and your long-term parent/child relationship. Give it a try today!