My five-year-old son and I have a very close connection with another single mom friend of mine who has two kids: a son who is seven and a daughter who is five.
My son and her daughter go to school together and I often pick the two of them up from school and bring them to my friends house for dinner. Lately, during their play while we are making dinner, my son has been clashing with the both of them and the conflict has caused my friend's older son to ask for time away.
I noticed that he is sensitive to their sibling connection and often feels left out which results in off-track behavior. I thought about how I could connect to him better before he comes to my friend's house and plays with her kids. The next week, I picked both the kids up as usual and brought them to my friends house for dinner. I asked her daughter to go in while I stayed outside with my son and offered him Special Time. She went in and he accepted my invitation without hesitation! so, we set time for ten minutes to do whatever his little heart desired before going in to help with dinner.
We excitedly and joyfully ran around the block, observing cars, flowers and houses. We tried climbing a tree and sat on someone's lawn, observing all the little critters that live inside the grass. He was so content to have someone's loving attention all just for him. After the timer went off, we agreed to race back to the house.
The night went smoothly and my son was patient during the conflicts that arose with the other kids. The kids managed to work out their difficulties and enjoy playing before, during and after dinner. I noticed he was able to play with or without them, having had a huge fill of connection right before.
Jeni Leary is a Certified Hand in Hand Instructor and a single parent in California.