The Transition from Connecting: When Your Child Wants More More More!

4. She needs more connection with you. 

When you first begin doing Special Time, your child is likely to feel a sense of great relief. Finally, she has you all to herself. But now that she’s finally had your full attention and adoration, she has to give you up all over again, which brings up the grief and loneliness of all the times she wanted more connection with you than she was able to get.

5. Your quality time tapped into some big feelings that need expression. 

This might be the most common reason for your child having a hard time when you disengage from close time together. Every child grapples with challenging experiences every day, from having to sit still in class to making new friends to being afraid of the dark. All day long, he stuffs those emotions until he has a safe time to process them.

When you connect deeply with your child, he feels safe enough to let those troubling emotions surface. So it’s not surprising that just when we start to disengage, he gets swamped with feelings.

If your child has a hard time stopping your Special Time, make sure you allow an extra 10 minutes in case there’s a meltdown after you’ve spent time connecting deeply. When he gets angry that you have to stop, stay compassionate and connected. If he cries, welcome his tears with understanding and be willing to sit with his pain. Be grateful that you’ve provided the safety to help him surface this pain. You’re healing something much deeper than Special Time coming to an end.

Acknowledge his feelings: “You’re upset that we have to stop playing. You just don’t feel like it’s enough right now. You can count on Special Time tomorrow, Noah. And right now we do have to stop… I’m sorry this is so hard for you.” What if he cries? Wonderful! That’s an indication that the connection you’ve made is helping your child feel safe enough to go into scary emotional territory and show you some emotional baggage he’s been dragging around. You’ll be amazed at how cooperative and affectionate he’ll be after a good cry in your safe presence. I know it’s bath time and you want to move on with your family’s schedule, but he won’t cry forever and this won’t happen every day.

Most parents in this situation get frustrated because we wonder if what we’ve just given our child made any difference at all. The answer is, yes, yes, yes!

Every bit of love and patience you extend toward your child makes a huge difference. Your child is giving you an opportunity to help her heal.

Don’t take her reluctance to let you go as anything but a vote for more closeness, and an SOS for your help.

Finding time for Special Time with kids is always tough. After all, parents by definition are sleep-deprived and stretched way too thin. But that doesn’t mean kids don’t need that time with us. Most parents say they’re astonished at the difference it makes. If you can’t do it daily, then prioritise a longer Special Time where kids choose the activity on weekends, and make sure there’s 15 minutes for a laughing game with all the kids every day before or after dinner, plus at least five minutes of snuggling with each child (in addition to reading) at bedtime daily.  

If it means the kids wear clothes still wrinkled out of the laundry basket, who cares? You’re giving them the emotional foundation they need to thrive, today and every day, for the rest of their lives.

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Dr. Laura Markham is the founder of and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy KidsPeaceful Parent, Happy Siblings and her latest book, the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook

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