6 Reasons to Spend One-on-One Time With Each of Your Kids

6 Reasons to Spend One-on-One Time With Each of Your Kids

The real scoop on why it’s important to prioritize that special time with each child.

By Judy Koutsky

Growing up one of six kids, my mom made an effort to give each of us individual time. Whether it was going grocery shopping with her (something we all loved to do, because the “helper” got to pick out a treat) or running errands, she often would take just one child with so we could talk. She also did special outings with each child (often a trip to the ice cream store) so we could catch up on school and issues with friends.

As a mom myself to two young boys now, I try to do the same. Yes, it’s often easier to take them both to the park or to a playdate, but I remember how valued I felt when my mom had a solo outings with me. During my one-on-one time with my boys, I often get great updates on their lives – I hear about kids they like (or don’t), fun things they did at school, and anything else they want to share. They often tell me a lot more without the other around, and I always leave our little one-on-one dates feeling like I got to know my son just a little bit better than before.

Here, six other reasons you might want to consider spending quality alone time with each child.

1. One-on-one time really lets your child open up. “Group dynamics change how we act and which sides of ourselves we show, whether we are children or adults,” says clinical psychologist Tracy S. Bennett, PhD, founder of the site GetKidsInternetSafe.com. "For instance, often times, my middle daughter would rather stay quiet then get one-upped or corrected by her older sister. But when she’s alone, she can be openly exploratory and take risks her siblings may suppress.” Also, with just one child to concentrate on, a parent can ask far more direct and intimate questions.

2. It conveys to your children that they are valued. Taking your child out solo makes him feel special and important. You’re saying it’s worth spending quality time with just him. “One-on-one time provides an environment where children can share without feeling the need to compete with siblings,” says Naphtali Roberts, a marriage and family therapist based in La Canada, California. Instead, they have all the parent’s attention.

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3. It creates a safe environment for big issues. “One-on-one time allows for difficult conversations, where the child might feel shame or embarrassment,” says Roberts. Any problems at school or even romantic feelings about a peer, are more likely to come up when it’s just the two of you.

4. It lets the “quiet” sibling have her turn. “One-on-one time is especially helpful for children who are more introverted, shy, or often mold to their environments,” says Roberts. “I have had parents say that they realized that they didn't really know their quieter child until they started monthly one-on-one dates. They realized through this special time that their child often just complied with her siblings’ desires and had not ever really shared what they enjoyed or loved.”


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5. It shows you don’t pick favorites. In many families, there’s the one child the others deem the favorite. “Spending time with each child allows you to stop the complaints of favoritism because each child knows that they will get to spend quality time with you,” says Mercedes Samudio, a parent coach and family therapist.

6. You understand what motivates each child. “My son Joey is, in my eyes, the instigator,” says Lisa Raphield, a mom from Westfield, New Jersey. “He’s often the one starting the fights. But during one-on-one time, I realized that he was doing that because he feels his younger brother gets more attention — from parents, teachers, and even friends. Understanding this helped me change my own behavior toward Joey.”

No matter what the reason, you can’t go wrong spending a little one-on-one time with each of your kids.

How do you prioritize one-on-one time with your children?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/patrickheagney

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