Benefits of Free Time for Kids

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Activities, Parenting

As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you may be feeling plagued by exhaustion and bewilderment with all the scheduled therapies and activities that are recommended by the ‘experts.’

You may also be feeling guilty because you see your child unhappy and overwhelmed by it all, yet everyone says, “You have to do it.” 

Even though your time and commitment are essential with RDI®, and we are focused on the process, it is much different than typical autism therapies that promote around the clock scheduled activities.

In fact, RDI® is not a therapy at all. You are guided to develop new ways of thinking, perceiving, and acting so you know how to use your precious time in facilitating your child’s mental growth. This does not involve pressing you to get more done, nor does it involve you pushing your child. Your child’s development is the purpose, and time is not a factor. 

Slowing Down to Speed Up

We believe in slowing down to speed up. We speed up incrementally as the child is ready to do so. RDI® is a gradual process. We believe less is more, especially in the early stages of progression. 

By slowing down, pacing, and giving yourself and your child space with less planned activities, the developmental benefits for your child multiplies. Slowing down to speed up grants free time for your child. Free time is a vital piece in the intrinsic dynamic growth of your child. 

Benefits of Free Time for Kids

Your child learns and develops from planned activities, but with a balance of free time, space is given for your child to naturally develop the motivation to learn. 

With RDI®, you are given room to make an emotional connection with your child. Your child intrinsically grows to look at you as the guide, not as a teacher that presses for mistake-free responses during a planned activity. The pressure is taken off you and the child. The frustration that could prohibit growth is ultimately prevented. 

Here is an example of how free time helps in the development of dynamic intelligence in your child:

Social coordination, the ability to observe others and self-regulate behavior in order to participate in social relationships, is one of the six areas of dynamic intelligence

Imagine a day packed with therapy and planned activities. How would you feel? You might be stressed. You might be tired. You might be focused on getting it all done. 

If your child observed you on that day, would they pick up on your anxiety? Yes, most definitely. 

Would your child have the clear-cut ability to self-regulate their behavior and smoothly participate in you and your family’s social activities while in the throes of distress? Probably not. 

Frustration would pile on top of confusion, with sensory and information overload, which is not conducive to learning anything, and worse, could lead to a meltdown. By that time, taking a break may no longer be an effective choice. Gone is your window to any learning ability in your child (for a time). 

Anxiety and frustration are always a factor in life, but our developmental approach helps to avoid these challenges.

Relationship Development Intervention promotes your child’s adaption to “normal” life. Success is found through a combination of planned activities and everyday life. Routine daily life is organically found in free time. Free time is encouraged! 

Free Time Helps You as a Parent Guide

We know that being a parent of an autistic child is tough. We know that putting a focus on you first can be a huge challenge, but that is exactly where free time (for both you and your child) is birthed and this promotes growth. 

By slowing down, you and your child are freed up to think and process life naturally. Feelings of guilt are not a part of this! 

As a parent, we do not expect you to live your life or schedule an abundance of daily activities by any given “chart.” You are your child’s guide. We do not push you to be a therapist. We want your family life to be an encouraging place for your child to develop. 

It is important to understand the obstacles you may face so that you can then understand how to overcome them. You can learn more about the guiding relationship and the RDI® Model by joining the RDI® online learning community here!


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