They say having one on one time with each child is important, and I fully agree.
My biggest challenge and regret concerning having seven children is that I don’t have as much one on one time with them as I’d like. Each child is different with different needs, and I do my best to address them as such. I have to make a conscious effort to engage each child one on one each day. Some opportunities occur at the same time every day (as when I drive my middle school child to and from school), but most times all I can offer is my undivided attention for a few minutes before someone else demands my undivided attention.
One of the strategies we use is Divide and Conquer .
My husband will supervise the masses while I focus on a particular child for a while (or vice versa). This way, the other kids aren’t completely ignored and the problem child gets the attention he/she needs.
Do you ever get straight pestered by a child?
What I have learned, is this is often a call for my attention. Instead of losing patience because I can’t accomplish whatever I am doing with this kid in my face, I re-focus on the child. Starting a productive conversation or expressing interest in something the child is doing (this is a challenge… kid dancing around like a fool? Maybe talk about the different dances in different cultures, etc.). Sometimes, I’ll invite the child to grab a book and read with me, or help me prepare dinner. Sometimes I get sneaky, “Oh, that thing you’re doing with your eyeball is very interesting, can you pick up that tissue and throw it away for me?”; after several small tasks like this, the kid disappears. Sometimes I just kick the kid outside and let the neighbors deal with ’em.
“Only Child Time” (a.k.a. “one on one time”) as a reward.
This is usually an outing to get snow cones (or some other treat) without having to share mom and dad with siblings. We all pretend that we are a family of three, and that child gets our undivided attention for an hour or two. Around report-card time we may have to pair up (the girls one day/ the two boys that do well on another day), but we still cherish this almost alone bonding time. Truth be told, I think they like hanging out with a sibling more than the parents, anyway.
These one on one bonding moments have become important to me because my husband and I want each child to know that they matter. Whatever goes on in their life matters to us, simply because it is important to THEM. It is especially rewarding when they feel they can confide in us without judgement, which turns out to be a double edged sword in my husband’s case:
Number 2: Dad, guess what?!? I started!
Dad: Started what?
Number 2: My period!