Supporting Emotions

Raising Reciprocity’s Episode #5 – Supporting Emotions. Megan and Kate discuss two key strategies to help your child (and yourself) manage big emotions.

(0.01) Intro

We all have meltdowns sometimes and yet as caregivers of children how do you work to stay unfrazzled and connected to your child when they are feeling all the big feels? This episode looks at two parenting tools that can help!

(0.35) Apology

Megan went to Egypt, a trip she’s been dreaming of for years, and apologizes for technical errors that prevented new episodes from coming out in October. 

(1.49) Emotional Intelligence as Activism

Two strategies are the focus of this episode: “Special Time” and “FIlling the Bucket”. We see these as forms of activism in that emotional intelligence can be practiced and taught to children who then grow up to be emotionally intelligent adults. That sets the stage for people to be able to show up in the world from a place of openness, curiosity and resourced enough that empathy can grow when taking other people’s perspectives. It moves us from operating defensively toward learning, growing, care.

(2.51) Special Time

The idea and name “Special Time” was developed from a non-profit organization out of San Francisco and now operates internationally. Their work and that of their founder, Patty Wipfler, can be found online at and tutorials on YouTube. (Search “Special Time Live with Patty”) 

Additionally there is a podcast with Elle Kwan specific to Special Time here:

(3.30) Special Time in a Nutshell

Special Time is a scheduled, pre planned, block of time when you give your undivided attention to your child. During this time your child gets to make the plans and lead the activity, as long as it is safe. This is not a time for screen use of any kind as screens are dysregulating when it comes to the type of connection you are striving for through the practice of Special Time between child and parent or other adult caregiver. Set a timer for a specific amount of time (5-20 minutes), start small, this is harder than you may first think, and commit to your child your full attention. Reflect on a time of day that is difficult for your child and decide if there is a time to provide them special time before arriving at that challenging time. 

(6.29) The Fit: When Special Time is Over

Plan for your child to be upset when special time is over, not always, but initially as you use this new to you tool. When you build in time and expect this you will be able to stay in a place of calm. Of course they will want more time with you – they love your undivided attention!

(7.24) Benefits of an Emotional Release

You know the feeling that comes after a good cry? Why not set that up for your child? Be their witness, hold space for them as they off load the stressors of their day. Your job in that moment is to keep them safe as the vent, to stay and listen. There is nothing to be “fixed” at this time. Listening in an open, nonjudgmental way is the gift you offer them. 

(9.07) Highlights of Special Time

-Be consistent. Hold Special Time when and for how long you said you would. This builds trust between you and your child. 

-No screens. Children see adults interacting with devices all day long and they know screens are important to us. Put the screens away for a bit and let them know that they are important to you too!

-Expect the tearful release or upset. Know that and teach that there are benefits to crying. This Article explains the various types of tears and that those shed during an emotional release flush toxins out of your body.

(10.51) Save Yourself Time 

By planning for, scheduling times when your child can off load big feelings you may in fact save yourself time and stress in the long run. Children will release some way or another and that can and often does pop up at inconvenient times. Ward some of those instances off by using special time. 

(11:58) Filling the Bucket

The imagery of a fill or empty bucket as a symbol for how resourced is a person and is used to help us be in touch with our/our child’s capacity to manage stress in a given moment. Consider what depletes your bucket? What fills your bucket? In what ways can you refill your/ your child’s bucket when the stressors are coming at you/your child? “How Full Is Your Bucket?” Is by Mary Reckmeyer and Tom Rath and can be found here:

Help your child start to identify ways that they best offload stress and recharge themselves. Work towards figuring this out for yourself so that you can model these behaviors. 

Use Special Time as a way to resource your child and fill their bucket. It’s a tool that ultimately lends itself to having interactions with your child that are more easeful as your kiddo is more likely to feel connected to you and ready to cooperate.

(15.02) Special Time: Does it drain the adult bucket?

The push, whether cultural or internal, to keep at your adult “to-do” list can make slowing down to truly be with your child, letting them lead the way, a challenge! The push can be quite a strong force, add in all the dings and chimes coming from your devices and special time becomes real work for the grown up. If you’ve told your child there is going to be special time examine how full your bucket is beforehand. Show up for your child with resources in your bucket that will allow you to be a calm presence and reflect that calm and love to your kiddo. They will feel that connective energy with you. 

(16:48) Closing

Join us on Facebook and Instagram at Raising Reciprocity to share your reflections on and work with these tools of Special Time and the concept of Filling Your Bucket. Thanks for joining us.

Check out the transcript for this episode. Please know that it was produced by AI so kindly disregard any errors:)

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