Teaching My Extended Family How to Implement Special Time


Michelle-and-GirlsAs winter break approached this year I found myself worried about the interactions my kids would have with the plethora of adults who would be coming in for the holidays. In an effort to keep things kid-focused and give my children the kind of individualized time they had grown so accustomed to since we began with Hand in Hand Parenting I enlisted the help of my family.

Getting Prepped

Many weeks prior to our 12-person family invasion I emailed the group describing to them our successes with the five Listening Tools, especially with regard to Special Time. In my email I asked our family members to try and spend at least 20 individualized minutes with each of my kids over the three days they were all in town.

Coming to the Holidays with Calm

The weeks leading to the visit I spent a good amount of time with my various Listening Partners exploring all of my fears around holidays. Including all of my less than perfect experiences as a kid. This helped me clear my feelings, to some degree, so I could come to the holidays with more calm.

A Family-Friendly Reminder

Right before the family arrived I sent out a second email with a small description of Special Time. By the end of the three days everyone had spent time with the girls. They actually did it!

When I saw my kids were feeling left out I would ask if anyone wanted to be a playmate and I would always get a volunteer. In the end, I believe my adult family members actually enjoyed their Special Time with the kids. I think they began to form real bonds with my girls.

The girls were so happy and at ease during the visit, with adults interested in them you could tell they felt known and valued. It was amazing. My kids and I had a great visit with our family.

Sometimes if you just ask for what you need you will actually get it!

~ Michelle Carlson, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor

Messy Loud Real-Life ParentingIf you want some more suggestions on how to use Special Time, check out our free video series. In the first video, you’ll get a step by step guide to using Special Time and some fun examples of what it can look like. Get your videos now.

4 thoughts on “Teaching My Extended Family How to Implement Special Time

  1. This is great! Speaking directly with relatives about my parenting life and my expectations is something I have felt too timid to do at times. This solution of yours was so simple and so elegant. Congratulations! I found this to be a hopeful story.

  2. This is perfect Michelle. We often just put the kids together and let them go instead of invest in their experience too. Thank you for sharing this. Love you and those girls.

  3. I love this. You have given me such a gift with Special Time. The quality versus quantity truly applies here and, as you have wisely noted, the gain for both the adult and child is huge. Thanks, Michelle! So proud of you and eager to learn more.

  4. What a perfect example of stating your needs, and describing your expectation on how your guests could fulfill those needs. And you were willing to continue to be proactive and ask for help, without expecting others to know your daughters, or your Special Time concept well enough to pick up the ball without a nudge.

    I love this idea, and I think that all of us–kids and adults alike–deserve to have our own Special Time. This will help us develop unique connections with family and friends and allows us to be seen as individuals, not just as a part of a group, whether that is siblings or an entire family.

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