Did you know that a simple, 7-minute investment made on a daily basis can change your relationship with your child? It can also change your child’s life forever. This simple investment involves giving your undivided attention to your child for at least 7-minutes a day. Wait…before you quit reading, consider what it feels like to receive someone’s full attention. It informs us of our value. It communicates how much the person loves us. It leaves us with a sense of joy and contentment. Don’t you want your children to experience your love as well as the sense of value, joy, and contentment that results from your undivided attention? For all the benefit your child gains, this investment is really simple. It involves only 3 steps and about 7-minutes.
First, set aside a consistent time in which you can engage your children every day. You might schedule this time first thing in the morning, at bedtime, or while eating a meal or snack together. You pick the time that works best for you and your child. During this time, focus on them. Put away any distractions. Turn off all cellphones, TVs, and gaming equipment. Listen and follow your children’s lead in the conversation. You can ask a question to get things started, but your most important task is to listen intently with the goal of learning about your children, their day, and their lives.
Second, focus on the positive. You can make it a time of gratitude. You can talk about positive things that have happened or about dreams of the future. You might explore ways in which your children have overcome various obstacles or managed stressors they encountered. Admire their ingenuity and resilience. But save discipline, “suggestions,” or lessons for another time. If you do have to offer some criticism in the moment (and I emphasize, only if it absolutely must be addressed immediately) sandwich it between some positive, loving statements. The important aspect of this time together is to celebrate your children, their strengths, and their interests. You want them to experience how much you delight in them and value them.
Third, voice your admiration of your children’s efforts in doing the things they enjoy as well as their efforts in managing the obstacles and hardships of life. Point out how their effort has led to improvements in talents and strengths and, in turn, led to even greater satisfaction and contentment. Express your pride in their persistence. Make it all conversational with the direction and topic determined by your children and their interests at the time. The goal is to let them know you recognize their efforts and that those efforts reap positive results, even if they experience temporary setbacks.
Three steps, 7-minutes…that’s it. But they will change your relationship with your children today and far into the future. They will also change your children’s lives for years to come. The icing on the cake? You will enjoy a wonderful time growing closer to your child.