Do you ever feel like you maybe offer too many suggestions to your child about how they should do things? Or that you're sure to let them know about all the impracticalities of their latest brilliant idea? It's certainly something I've had to work on (still do!), but here's how a Special Time session a while ago rather unexpectedly gave me an opportunity to practise the important skill of backing off!!
We have been working hard to make time for regular Special Time recently (not easy with three children, but we have tried to prioritise it!), and I was on Special Time duty this particular weekend! I had done 20 minutes with each of the younger two, and now it was the turn of our oldest son (aged 7 at the time of writing). Originally he'd said he wanted to play football, which I quite enjoy doing with him (although it is exhausting!!), but then at the last moment he changed his mind, and decided he wanted to raise some money for charity instead. The idea of asking people for money has never been one that I am comfortable with (although I am more than happy to be asked myself!), so I was not completely delighted with his choice of activity, but of course I had to put that to one side and make myself 100% available to him anyway!
We sat and designed a sign, where he got me to list activities, and the prices of the things that people could choose to do. I thought we were just in the planning stages, but no! He had already prepared resources, and he gathered everything up and told me I was to drive him to 'somewhere with lots of people' - off we went, and I knew that his Special Time would be over by the time we arrived, or thereabouts, but we set off anyway. We arrived in town and were just thinking about parking when the timer went off - he agreed we should pull over and talk about what to.
He asked if we could do it anyway, and I explained that we didn't have the time for it that morning as we needed to get back for lunch very soon. I was expecting disappointment (maybe even some Staylistening), and although there was certainly a tinge of hard feelings for him, he was actually pretty ok with the outcome - he just raised the possibility of coming back to do it another time. He was quite happy on the drive home, and full of ideas of how to take his project further.
I felt my son got a lot out of this Special Time - when we're not having Special Time, I know that often I stick my nose in when he's working on something and say things like 'I'm not sure that will work' or 'How about trying it this way?', and I know that this is not helpful in giving him the confidence to develop his own skills, and make his own mistakes. It's something I'm really working on and was happy for the focused practice, so I was really conscious of being a listening ear, and being quietly enthusiastic and supportive of his suggestions. And I was also very conscious that I had to say yes - even to something I was really very uncomfortable with!! All I could think was 'I'm going to have to do this!!!!', and I just let the feelings of nervousness sit with me - there was no getting out of it (I'll be taking it to a Listening Partnership I'm sure)!
My son is now keen to continue with this project, and has already made plans to look into whether he can get an official collection box from the charity he's chosen to support, and to think of some more activities he can add to his list. And I have made plans to continue to be fully engaged in this project - but from the back seat!
Other resources you may find useful:
How to make the most of Special Time with your child [checklist] - useful and quick reminder of how to do Special Time!
How Special Time makes children content - gives a really good flavour of the feel of Special Time
Free video series on Special Time