Planning Special Time with a teen can be a little different than with a younger child. It's a topsy-turvy road of uncertainty, for sure.
Several years ago my son always jumped at the chance to have Special Time. Now that he is 13, he often tells me that he does not want it – most often when I suggest it.
Take a look at how our Special Time looked recently at our house:
Me: “Do you want to do Special Time?”
Son: “No! Special Time is for babies!”
Me: “Ok, let’s not do Special Time. How about we just hang out? You can choose what we do if you’d like…”
But then again, sometimes even “hanging out” doesn't work.
…On a different day, when I had some free time:
Me: “Want to hang out? You choose what we do…”
Later that night, when it was time for lights out and I was eager to sleep…
Son: “NOW I want special time! Will you listen to me play the guitar?”
Me: (to myself) “No!!! I’m soooo tired!” (Out loud to him) “Yes! I'd love to.”
When he was younger under these same circumstances, I might have given a 3-minute Special Time then set a Loving Limit about bedtime, but now that he is a teen I am learning to be more ready and available for these openings.
With teens, it is typical for feelings to start bubbling up once the house gets quiet, homework is done, or after an evening out with friends. I was told by some of my favorite Hand in Hand mentors that had already parented through the teen years to plan on staying awake longer than I might like, and maybe even find a time for a nap during the day if needed.
I can definitely tell that my teen son is happier and calmer when I look to connect with him in Special Time, and so I'm keen to persist in looking for openings, even if I have to stay up longer to do it.
Read about why Listening to your Teen is so important, and learn how to do it.
Find out how to stay close to your child through the teen years on this free parenting call How Special Time Works with Older Kids. A free replay will be available if you can't make the call.
Get your special time checklist here
Lauren Stearns is on the Hand in Hand Certificate program and is based in Orange County. Certified Hand in Hand instructors help parents find tools and strategies that connect families. You can go here to find out more about certifying as an instructor with Hand in Hand Parenting.