Jump-Start Your Relationship Through PSTs (with kids)

Posted on 23-04-2016 , by: Dr. Tim. Hogan , in , 0 Comments

Defibrillators literally shock dead people back to life. What about relationships? If only there was a way to jolt a dead relationship back to life. 

Well, there is.

I discovered this treasure as a resident at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. It changed me, both as a family psychologist and a father. I call this practice “Protected Special Time” (PST). Like a defibrillator, it jolts currently dead relationships back to life. This week I’ll show you how to jolt to life a relationship with a child. Next week I’ll show you how to use it to restart relationships with teens and adults. Here’s how to do it:

  • Schedule it: Schedule and protect a block of time, sometimes as short as 10 minutes, several days per week, to focus on interacting with your child.
  • Prepare to be fully present. Take a few minutes prior to special time to take some deep breaths and relax. The goal is to help the child feel your full love and presence. Make sure there will be no distractions, including phone calls or interruptions from other children.
  • Set a timer. Make sure you have a clear beginning and end.
  • Let the child lead. During protected special time the child gets to pick the activity and lead the play. Be playful and follow, even commenting like a sportscaster might (i.e., “There goes the car crashing into the blocks!”)
  • No teaching. No questions. No controlling. (This is harder than it looks!)
  • When the timer rings, PST ends. If the child has a hard time, be compassionate but clear that PST is over so now “normal rules are in place”.
  • When possible repeat PST several times per week.

Why does PST jolt relationships back to life? There are several reasons, but here are the main ones:

  • The child will feel loved through your approval, positive attention and interest in his/her inner world. 
  • The child will feel better understood: Because the child is leading he or she will often reveal new interests and feelings to the adult that otherwise don’t come out.
  • The child will feel safer and more emotionally attached to you, which will decrease their overall distress.

So, do you need to bring a relationship with a special child back to life? Start now by implementing Protected Special Times (PST). You will notice the difference right away. Next week I’ll show you how to PSTs can be used to resurrect any relationship with friends and family.

Have a great week.

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