How can you make each child feel important? Have one on one time with your kids. Devote time to JUST THAT CHILD!
It really is just that easy- spend time listening to your child and talking with your child… say yes when they ask you to lie down with them when you tuck them. These moments of individual time all add up to a very loved child.
♡ Update: Since sharing this idea (shared below), I have received so many wonderful emails about how this tradition is now working in their family to help their children feel important, special, and loved. Parents and grandparents have adopted this tradition with their nuclear family and extended family, and are seeing huge benefits from it.♡
My husband and I have four children, each two years apart. No matter how old our children become, the time with them is so important and cannot be forgotten, missed, or put on hold.
From the early years with young children to later years of parenting a teenager, every year is as important as the year before. The parent/child relationship is a bond that lasts for a lifetime.
One day, before you know it, this child will become your best friend. Your child will be kind and loving, have good social skills, and be respectful. You will see confidence in your child because of the time that you took to be with them, to learn about them, to talk to them, to love them.
These moments of one on one time are when our children build this trust in our relationship. Children learn how much they are loved when they have individual time with each of their family members.
No matter which of the parenting styles you use in your family life, no matter how parents rear their children, raise their children, or work with their children, we’ve heard this works wonders.
It’s the simple act of individual time to show your child that you care.
How Do You Find Time for One-on-One Time?
Spending one on one time with each of them can be challenging because they each want our attention all of the time.
I was talking about this with my dear friend, Kristy, an early childhood expert & a child development therapist, and she told me a wonderful parenting idea that we have since adopted and we now use every month. It is essential to make every child important.
Our One-on-One Time Tradition: “Your Special Night”
1). EVERY MONTH, on our child’s ‘birth date,” they get to have what we call “YOUR SPECIAL NIGHT.“
What does this look like?
It means that every month, each child will get one night that is just theirs. It is special because it’s their night with us, with no one else around. For about a half of an hour, we do something fun, out of the ordinary, and we focus 100% of our attention on that child.
Can you share an example?
Since one of our sons was born on August 29th. Each month, on the 29th, it is his special night.
Another one of our sons was born on April 18th, so every month on the 18th, it is his special night.
And so on…
What do you do on the Special Night?
How long does it last?
On their “Special Night”, they get to stay up about 20-30 minutes later than normal. The other kids go to their room to go to bed or to read a book, but the “b-day child” stays up to do something fun with mom & dad.
The child picks the activity. Here are some ideas…
- play a board game
- read a book
- go on a walk
- write hidden messages & watch them appear in the water
- do a science experiment
- work on the car with dad
- go on a bike ride
- build something
- make a fort
- Make a bucket list for traveling (inside and outside of the United States)
- bake 3-ingredient cookies.
You are welcome to use this printable list of one-on-one time activities, too.
Do Electronics Count As An ‘Activity’?
We do not allow electronics because we can’t talk. This is their chance to really talk to us, to communicate, to laugh, to tell us anything – and we give them our attention.
If the TV is on, or a game is on, our attention is focused on the screen instead of on each other. For that reason, it can not be watching TV or playing on the computer (no electronics). When electronics are on, it can feel like your attention is divided, just like if you were with a group of people instead of just your child.
We End with Words of Affirmation & Prayer
When it is time for bed, after our special night is done, we take a few minutes to speak words of affirmation over our child.
Each Parent Says Gives Two Compliments
We tell them two specific things (two from each of us) that we love about them.
Examples of things we might say:
- “I love how you are so funny and smile all of the time!”
- “I love how you are so sweet to your little sister!”
- ” I love how you try to make people laugh if they are feeling sad.”
- “You always do your chores without complaining.”
We each do this, each listing at least two things that we cherish about him.
We Say A Prayer Together
Afterward, Mickey and I hold that child’s hands while we say a prayer together. You could use this printable prayer hand. We say the prayer out loud for them to hear.
“Thank you, God, for _(child’s name)____. Please watch over him and take care of him tonight and tomorrow. Let him have a wonderful day tomorrow! Let him know how much You love him and let him share Your love with others through his gratitude, smile, patience, and kind words. Thank you for this child – he is smart, funny, and made in your Glory. We are grateful that he is our son & we love that we get to love him every day!”
Tuck Them In
Finally, we lie down with him, when we tuck them into bed at night. This is something that we do with each child, every single night.
Any time that you get to cuddle with your kids is a good time.
Are the other kids jealous?
They are probably a little bit envious, even though their turn is just around the bend. They’ve never come right out & said it, but they do try to interrupt for this reason or that reason. They know that this isn’t allowed.
It’s understandable, as everyone loves their ‘special night’ and wants it to be their turn. To resolve this, we let our other kids read books in their beds (quietly) until the other ones are going to bed.
This is instead of going right to sleep and it only happens when they are old enough to handle staying up 30 minutes later. When our kids were younger, they went to bed at 7:00 most nights, so staying up until 7:30 wasn’t a big deal. Even now, the difference between 8:30 & 9:00 or 9:00 & 9:30 isn’t much.
What if the siblings interrupt?
If a child does interrupt (and they are old enough to understand), they lose minutes from their own special night.
If they interrupt for five minutes, they lose five minutes on their night. If you stick to this rule one time, they won’t do it again.
Set a Reminder
The odds of your child forgetting about their special night is slim, but just in case, we write their name, in big letters, on our calendar. They LOVE to watch the calendar to see how it slowly comes to their day. I also have a reminder set that alerts me each month.
Every month on the 25th, I hear a reminder around noon that says, “Ethan stays up tonight for his special night!”
What NOT to do during one-on-one time:
There are a few things that you should not do during one on one time. While this post gives you a very detailed list, it is important to put away any distractions. This allows you to be present with your child, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, too.
Why Have Special Nights for One on One Time?
We do this because it can be hard to find uninterrupted time with our children during the day. This guarantees that your child will have this time with you.
Use this time to get to know your child even better. Snuggle with them, talk to them, learn from them, enjoy their company, and have fun! The more that you get to know your child, through conversations and following their lead, the closer you will become. This is your chance to let them know how much you cherish them as individuals & how much you cherish your time with them.
Looking back on our family (and the family history that we are creating), we have seen just how amazing it is when you have close relationships with your children.
Any time that you can give a child your undivided attention, you are making a lasting impression in their hearts. A memory to last a lifetime…
“Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ~Catherine Wallace