A key component of PCIT involves caregivers completing five minutes of daily "homework" to practice the skills with their child. This homework is often referred to as Special Time, although caregivers are encouraged to call ii whatever feels natural to them. Caregivers will excel in PCIT when they complete seven out of seven days of homework. They will understand the skills better, they will be applying the skills to more real-life situations and they will develop a warmer, meaningful, relationship with their child.
Special time shouldn't be viewed as a chore, another thing on your to-do list, or busy work. Special time, should be just that-special. A time to connect with your child on a deeper level. One of the best things about special time, is your child will love it. They will look forward to it. It will make them feel important and valued. And if you are engaged in PCIT, they will totally rat you out to the therapist if you haven't done special time. Which as a therapist, makes me laugh!
You don't have to be attending PCIT to engage in special time at home. In fact, I'll tell you what to do right now. Pick a time of day centered around an event- such as dinner time, bath time, after school, etc. You'll want to block off at least 5 minutes. Find an interactive toy around your home, such as Legos, playdough, cars, animals, fake food, dolls, etc. Sit down with your child one-on-one and follow your child's lead in play! That's it! This intentional time alone will help strengthen your bond and connection. If you want to add in some PCIT skills- I'll tell you how to do that too.
During play time- be present and notice. Praise your child for their creativity, gentleness, or sharing. Reflect or repeat what your child says. Imitate their actions and play along with them. Describe what they are doing. And enjoy your time with them!
Five minutes of time each day is all it takes to completely change your child's behaviors. Your child will never forget this time together and never forget how you made them feel.
Let me know how it goes!- Katie Smith, LCSW