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Parenting superpower series – special time

Behind every RARE Child are RARE Parents giving everything they have to support and care for their loved ones. RARE Parents have many roles they often find themselves at the helm of driving research for their child’s condition or making sure their needs are met as caregivers and most importantly making their children as happy as they can be in difficult times. In this campaign we are highlighting the experiences and sharing advice from our #RAREParents.

Johanna Berglein founder of Respectful Parenting is dedicated to teaching and supporting families with medical needs, she works with parents and organisations. Johanna offers:

Five practical tools to strengthen your family emotionally and lift you out of isolation. You will learn to build your child’s self-esteem, give strength in painful moments, foster strong family bonds and create joyful memories.

Johanna Berglein
Johanna’s Superpower Series – Special Time 

I am introducing these tools to you as a Social Worker and certified instructor of Hand in Hand Parenting. I was born with a complex and rare birth defect – an Anorectal Malformation. I had to endure countless painful and fearful moments during necessary medical procedures. 

Johanna and her daughter

Today, I have two wonderful daughters 2 and 5 years old. I appreciate the Hand in Hand method in my own family and can only imagine how helpful these tools would have been for my family and me growing up. For this reason, I dedicate my teaching to families with medical needs. I work with parents and organisations. 

Transform your parenting with only 1 hour a week

What if you had the superpower to heal your child’s emotional hurt after medical procedures? What if you could foster resilience in your child with just 1 hour a week? This is possible with Special Time. Offering children who experience a lot of powerlessness because of medical procedures the experience of taking charge in a safe space is strengthening and healing. 

To learn more GET YOUR FREE Special Time Chapter from Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.  

Special Time (one-on-one time)

  • The adult decides when and for how long to offer special time
  • Set a timer (usually between 5-30min)
  • Let the child know that you are offering Special Time
  • The child is in charge and leads the play
  • The adult follows along, with full attention and enthusiasm
  • Don’t teach or make suggestions
  • Set limits only for immediate safety
  • Let Special Time end and allow your child to be upset if it is
The circle of helplessness

Having to overpower a child to deliver often life-saving treatment is challenging for medical professionals. Witnessing your child having to endure medical procedures is terrible for parents. Being the child who has to allow people to invade their body and endure pain and fear is traumatising. Helplessness goes all around in these situations. 

Special Time to the rescue

With Special Time parents and caregivers are empowered to give children the gift of regaining their power in a safe space. For a set amount of time, the adult offers love and attention while following the lead of the child. The child decides what happens next. The child is able to show us who they are, what is going on for them, and what they need from us. We join the child and offer admiration for the wonderful and strong person they are. Taking charge in play is a wonderful counter to helplessness. Experiencing that they can be empowered and strong is important for all children, but for children with special needs, this experience can be very healing. And just imagine how wonderful your special attention can be for siblings. A gift we can offer with just 1 hour a week per child.

If you want to dive deeper into using these tools: I offer parenting classes and individual consultations for parents, caregivers and medical professionals. I present at conferences, write articles, produce video content and am very interested to work with hospitals and patient organisations. Please get in touch here:

Johanna Berglein
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