I’m always reminded around the holidays that despite the fact our lives can be very difficult at times there is always something to be grateful for. The first thing that comes to mind is my family and my loved ones. Staying connected and sharing myself with those I love is always a blessing.
Now that we are in the season of gift giving many of us are out running around looking for the perfect gift for everyone we love and care about. Every parent wants to be able to give their child what they want most.
If you’re wondering what the best gift is to give your child this holiday season I have a suggestion. You can’t wrap it and it won’t fit under the tree – well maybe, but it would be a bit uncomfortable.
What is this gift? … It’s you! That’s right, schedule time in your appointment book to spend quality time with your child.
Research has shown that the more quality time children spend with their parents, the better they will do in every aspect of life. Extra bonding time is guaranteed to bring MANY long term benefits to your child’s life and your relationship.
Due to the media rich society we live in, some parents have been brainwashed to think that you have to shower your child with material gifts in order for them to have fun. I know, and you know, that your child will definitely appreciate any new electronic device as a gift. Yes, a video game, iPad or other screen machine device is bound to keep him or her happily occupied for hours. But passing free time this way doesn’t encourage your child to communicate, socialize and connect with family members, something all kids with autism need to practice.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Present your child with a personalized coupon or voucher for spending special time together that can be cashed in at a later date. This can include a date for a special event, fun time in the park, a planned activity, or just snuggling time.
- Find the time to make good on it and write it in your calendar/appointment book.
- Alert your child in advance: “Tomorrow night will be a good time to cash in on your ‘Mom & Me’ coupon. Tell your child the exact time you will begin and a time that your activity will end.
- Write your special time together on the family calendar for your child to refer to. Being able to look at it whenever necessary will help prevent any anxiety from developing in your child. They like life to be predictable.
- When the time comes it’s crucial to “stay engaged”. Pretend you and she are the only ones alive. DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow the phone, the doorbell or anything else disturb you, if at home.
- Let everyone in the household know what you are going to do so you won’t be interrupted. You can even make up a DO NOT DISTURB sign to emphasize the time with your child as special. If you have more than one child, make sure they all know they will have a turn.
Go ahead and give, or purchase, those other gifts you are thinking of but just make sure you have included time together as well. Complete undivided attention is an easy and healthy way to enhance your relationship and make your child happy. Enjoy!
For more strategies and tips to create the holiday you dream of, click here to access this ebook on Kindle, Autism Parenting: How to Have a Happy Holiday with your Child on the Spectrum.