It is a “special play time” between a parent and child where the child is free to play and guide the interaction with the parent for 5 minutes per day. Children may not have the words to express themselves. That is where play comes in. Play of all kinds allows the child some unstructured ways to explore their world and emotions.
· Your child will feel seen and heard just as they are.
· It will help your child feel safe and calm.
· It will allow your child to interact and communicate at their level
· It uses positive attention to help manage your child’s behavior.
· It will help open up two-way communication.
· It will help improve your child’s self-esteem.
· Most importantly; done consistently, over time this WILL strengthen the bond between you and your child.
· Commit to spending 5 uninterrupted minutes 5-7 days a week.
· Imitate their actions and follow your child’s lead-You should play with them, but let them lead everything. Try not to disturb the flow with questions.
· Describe, paraphrase & mirror what your child is doing. This may feel awkward at first but will get easier. This shows your child that you are fully present and listening to them.
· Example: You might say, “You are building a tower.” Or “You are showing mommy a funny dance!”
· If you are not sure what to do you can whisper to your child, “What do I do next?”
· Let them choose what they want to play with you.
· Do Not ask questions or lead the play.
· This is a tricky one as it is difficult to not ask questions. Do your best.
· Do not criticize OR try to teach them any lessons.
· Try to allow your inner child to come out and play.
· Keep trying even when you feel like it is not working.
What if the play is interrupted by hitting, throwing, or hurting?
· You can calmly say, “It looks like we need to stop now, but we will meet up again tomorrow.” Empathize with them if they are upset. “I am sorry, I know you wanted to keep playing.
· Resist lectures or judgments about what happens during the “special play-time”.