A Happier Kid in just Ten Minutes

A bright yellow plastic holder displays a set of Crayola crayons. The light blue has been selected and is sitting higher than the others.

This morning I read this. “Forget walking 10,000 steps a day”(1). Better to get your heart rate up a few times a day. Ten-minute intervals of focused, moderate exercise yields health benefits. Similarly, ten focused minutes with your kids can benefit your relationship and yield a calmer kid.

I practiced this years ago and then forgot. The article on exercise reminded me. (Most of our revelations are memories, aren’t they? But that is another post.)

Dr. Laura Markham “claimed that just ten minutes of focused time on a regular* basis would help your child feel secure and accepted and improve your relationship all day long.”(2)

Just ten minutes. This is not a “you need to spend more time with your kid” message. Not more time. Just more focused.

Quality over quantity.

Quality requires intention. You play with your child. You don’t sit nearby scrolling your Instagram feed. It’ll still be there in 11 minutes’ time.

Let your child direct the play. Play the game or role play of her choice. Just go with it. Your goal here is to be with your kid, see her, and share play that is important to her. (Kids take play very seriously. What happens to Chase and the Paw Patrol matters in her world.)

A mother gazes lovingly at her baby daughter. Photo by Colin Maynard on Unsplash
Photo by Colin Maynard on Unsplash

Pay attention, fully. Your posture engaged, turn to face your child. Make eye contact.

Follow her lead. And throw in some physical interaction before you return to your own duties. Roughhousing can help kids work out some of the stress that builds up over the course of the day. (2)

Your attention, your touch mean the world to your child.

This interaction will feel long at first but you are strengthening your bond while tangibly assuring your child of your presence and care. Ten minutes to a calmer, happier child sounds like an excellent return on investment.

As in so much of life – mindfulness, exercise, a quick nap – intentional focus matters more than duration. Ten minutes well spent can yield exponential returns.

 

*Regular could be once a week with each child. Three times per week is recommended for children in more difficult situations.

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