Special Time With Your Kids

04 February 2009

I have to give a little background on my guest poster today. Susan is awesome. She' s someone you're attracted to instantly because of her warmth, smile, sense of humor and kindness. I adore her kids also~they are some of the most happy, well-behaved, polite kids and just a joy to be around. We were getting all ready to move from Idaho to Texas, and I really wanted to corner Susan and ask her, "how do you do it? what's the secret to your awesome kids?" We were at a barbeque at some friends home, I was sitting next to Susan and her husband, and I did just that. I asked them, and they said simply, "special times." Susan had given a presentation on special times at a church meeting, and I loved it and knew I wanted to make it part of our family traditions. But, our kids were young and we didn't make it a priority. Soooo, on the long drive to Texas, I went over it with my husband and he loved the idea as well, and we decided it would be a priority here. It has been such a blessing in our lives, and our kids. Now, I am not saying our kids are even close to perfect~they're not. But, I love what it has done for our relationship with our kids. We do it once a week, and rotate between the two of us, so every child gets at least one "special time" a month with mom or dad. They love it and never let us forget and especially love choosing what we're going to do together. We are believers in this, so I asked her to share. Thanks, Susan!
Special Times
by Susan Mathieson

In today’s world—we are an “instant” thinking people. If something is broken, we can get it fixed quick. Many people consider their children broken—a few examples might be: misbehaving, hyper, bed wetting, hard to concentrate, failing at school, acting out because there’s a new baby in the home, problems with friends, low self confidence or self worth. Too many times parents are turning to professionals to get help for their children. They want their children “fixed” NOW. So they take them to the doctor where many times they suggest to medicate the problem.
Melissa has asked me to share something we do as parents with our children called, Special Times. It is a solution that has a longer lasting affect on our children for the good that will help them throughout their lives. This is not an instant—“get fixed quick” solution, although the results are sometimes instant! This is more enjoyable and the way we should be treating our children, whom we love more than anything…right! This is a continuous dose of love and attention.
These special times are vital to our children in helping them feel secure, confident but most of all loved. My husband and I take turns doing these special times with each child. We do it about once a month, but if we notice one child seems to need it more, we will up it to once a week.
I received a paper about it with specific instructions** that have to be followed in able for it to work. They are special ingredients that help guide us step by step so we get consistent results each time. Just like we don’t change the recipe for any fabulous dessert, don’t change the recipe for these fabulous kids.

#1 One parent with one child. No one else should be allowed to share this special activity.
#2 The invitation to the child should convey a message…”I need to be alone with you, where no-one else can interfere with the good time the two of us will have together.”
#3 The activity should be the kind which a child can interpret in only one way, “The reason my mother (father) has asked me to go along is because she (he) needs me and can’t stand to have anyone else around who might destroy this special time.” If you go to the store…you only buy for that child. You do not pick up that gallon of milk you so desperately need. You can however buy two ice cream cones for each of you to eat together.
#4 The activity should be used with all children in the home. However, the child with the most severe emotional problems should receive this special time more often than the others as a form of therapy.

#5 The activity should be conducted outside the home. Several parents have informed me that a consistent special time together within the home has met with failure because of “emergency” interferences: an urgent telephone call; a cut finger; a visit from an unexpected friend or relative. When a child leaves his home, hand in hand with a parent, he says to himself, “Now I have you all to myself, and no one can find us to take you away from me.”
#6 The activity should be non-competitive. This is not the time to teach about good sportsmanship.
#7 This activity should be strengthened by pleasant conversation. This is not a time to talk about what you wished they did better…just all positive thoughts and words.
#8 CONTINUITY is the most important ingredient in this formula. Most parents have a tendency, when there is no longer a problem, to discontinue this one-on-one activity until the problem arises again. Children who are “lifted up” emotionally and then “dropped” again, and again, may develop a defensive wall against being hurt and make every effort possible to refrain from emotional attachments.
#9 Keep the activity short…ours usually last about 30 minutes. If they don’t want it to end…just comfort with the words…”wasn’t this the best, I can’t wait until we get to do it again!” They’ll realize this isn’t the only time they will get to do this special activity with you.

I have shared this with hundreds of women who have seen the results as I have. This tool for parenting really has made a big difference in our children’s lives, and for us as parents too. It brings us back into the way we should be talking to our children and best of all, the way we should be listening to our children. The bickering and fighting just seems to go out the door. All of our children’s grandparents do this with them too. What great memories they will have as they remember the time that they were able to enjoy Grandma or Grandpa all to themselves.
A Child Spells Love…T-I-M-E!
I would love to hear all of your comments and how this has affected your family. If you have questions, ask in the comments section and we'll do a follow up post answering all questions.
** Golden Formula, by Vincent Keele

Tomorrow's post will be ideas for special times~have yours ready to share~we'd love to hear!!


  1. This is so true! We don't do it all the time like we should however when I notice one of my children acting out I realize they need my time. I will usually make some alone time with them and instantly they change their attitudes and the world seems better. I HAVE to start making myself do this more frequently!

  2. Thanks so much for this post! We try to do one-on-one things with our kids, nut I am afraid we are not as consistent as we should be. What a great plan.

    Thanks for sharing it!


  3. at our house we call it mom or dad dates. LOVE IT!! not only is it great for the kids, it's great for us as parents. there is something about one on one time that reminds us how much we really do love being parents. thanks for the great post-- and, a $3 sprinkle-covered ice cream cone now will hopefully save us hundreds of dollars later in counseling fees.

  4. You are all so right on. When one of our kids is acting out (more than usual, lol!) we look at each other and ask, "when was his/her last special time?" and know it is time for one. Consistency was a killer for us too. Once we were consistent though, it's funny, the kids kind of took over making sure we did it, because they don't want to miss it. What I love the most about it? The looks on the faces of the ones who just came back from special time. They are literally beaming!
    Jenifer~what a profound comment on the cost of an ice cream now! :)

  5. Susan - I miss you!
    your family is so wonderful and your children are great examples!
    we do something similiar but LOVED all of the guidelines - they really spell out the *formula* quite nicely!
    will be back tomorrow for some ideas!

  6. Susan, is there a chance that you could share some discipline tips in a post? Loved your insights. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is such a simple idea! It's such a shame most of us just don't do this. Hopefully your post will make us all make this a part of our family's rituals! I know I will be doing this!

  8. Hey Susan, I remember when you shared this Golden Time Formula with us at Enrichment. I didn't even have children yet but it made such a big impact on me. It is nice to be reminded of what I can and should be doing to help my family grow closer together. My dad did this with all nine of us children and I cherish those special times riding with him in his pickup and having him all to myself!! Melissa, Thanks for having Susan on as a guest blogger. What a great reminder!

  9. I can't wait for ideas! We do this too, but usually it takes more than 30 minutes and costs to much to do it every week. Thanks for this post.

    (by the way, I am a friend of Shandy's. She told us to come check your blog out)

  10. Wow, what a great post! I'm glad I wandered over. Recently we started taking our kids out one at a time, and its been so nice. Our kids get to feel special, and it also reminds me of how great my kids are! Sometimes its hard to see when they are constantly quarreling with each other.

    By the way... I saw your post over at tip junkie and I thought it was funny! Maryn is my cousin!

  11. Melissa...Thanks for the sweet opener! It's an honor to be posted on your fabulous blog! You are one cool mama!
    You know...it's such a great feeling to think that maybe this will help even one family out there! Thank you for all of your comments and e-mails. Now, go have fun with your kids!! Susan

  12. I love this post. It made me think and appreciate my children a little bit more. Thanks!

  13. (Annalee asked)
    As for discipline...I've always been big on the "Time Out Chair". It stops the yelling, the asking over and over, and the frustration. I always give them a warning..."If you do that one more time, you will need to sit on the chair." Consistancy, in following through is a must. If you say you will put them on the chair, then do it. After they've thought about it, the most important part is talking to them. Don't just let them off the chair, go down to their level and ask them why they were put on the chair and what they should do differently next time. That way they own the responsibility of what they did. As for my 2 year old, I do the explaining and talking, of what he needs to do next time. I know there are many ideas out there. This one has always been the most affective on my kids. Again it takes time, but it is so affective that in the long run, you won't have to put them on it as much because they are understanding and learning. Good luck. Susan

  14. My little runner... you are my idol!! I'm a huge advocate of following the guidelines and the results in my kids AND myself towards them are amazing! To me, the key is, it is not a date. It's simpler and shorter and uncomplicated so they can happen more often. I miss our ten milers talking about our special times!

  15. Susan, I remember when you shared this formula with me after you visited us a few years ago and we started implementing it with our kids. It changed our family. BUT we have been slacking on it lately, so this was so great to read it again and get motivated to be consistent and follow all the rules. :) And you do have absolutely delightful, sweet children! Loved hanging out with them this fall! Love you, Nicole

  16. This is such a simple idea and I think every one in general tries to spend some one on one time with their chilren, but he things you mentioned here are things we can focus on while we are out with them, I love the reminder. Thanks so much for sharing, I know my kids will love doing this.


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