It’s amazing what 20 minutes of connection can do!
I have seen several concepts of ‘floor time’ over the years, each professional putting their own spin on the idea of quality connection time with their kiddos. I too have been fortunate to learn from parents on how effective the concept has been in their family as they put it into practice.
Many of us can relate to the hustle of the evening routine; get home, start dinner, eat dinner, finish laundry, return an email or two, answer the call from Grandma, give baths, walk the dog, try to read a book or two to your children without falling asleep, etc. The list can even be longer. A general view of ‘floor time’ in its simplest form is taking 20 minutes of quality uninterrupted positive time with your kiddo PRIOR to starting the hustle and bustle of the evening. The concept can include having a ‘fun bucket’ which is full of no more than 5 developmentally appropriate simple activities that elicit positivity and interaction (Monopoly is not a good idea, but some play dough, a game of Uno, blocks or Legos work great). Also, don’t sneak the home work in the bucket! The hoped for outcome is that if families spend this time connecting, moving through in a positive manner, praising one another and connecting in the simplest way, you not only are sending the significant message that your time with your child is of great value, but you are likely buying yourself some uninterrupted time as you try and move through other tasks later in the evening. Essentially, you have filled your kiddo’s cup, so his/her level of need is reduced.
For our children in care who you are fostering, floor time can have even greater significance in the getting to know you phase of your journey together. It can support an increase in the child feeling connected, heard and important. It can alleviate anxieties around what to expect in the evening routine and can teach the parent a significant amount about the child. Thinking of this as a space where everyone is either praising or appreciating each other, you may learn where your child is still feeling hesitant, shy or confused about the current experience. All of this can lend itself to an affirming conversation about the kiddo being safe and loved and appreciated for his/her individual qualities you are noticing. It can also elicit sharing the same with you, about you as their parent, and what parent doesn’t want to hear the good stuff from their kiddos?
So as the saying goes…it is worth a try. The benefits will likely far out weigh the initial awkwardness of forcing a little quality time. It’s amazing what can happen in a relationship when we only give permission to talk about the good stuff. If you are already a Sierra family and you give it a try, we would love to hear your feedback!