Well, okay, I might not be able to guarantee NO meltdowns, but I will say that this one thing, which only requires 10 minutes a day, has proven incredibly helpful in significantly reducing meltdowns in my life. It’s a pretty simple concept that I’ve heard recommended by several parenting gurus under various names and with slightly different parameters.
How to Make it Happen
The basic concept is simple. Each day, spend 10 minutes of uninterrupted time with your children, individually. That means if you have two children, you spend 10 minutes with each one where it is only you and your child. You can call this time anything you want: Mommy or Daddy time might work just fine for younger kids. My kids just call it “10 minutes.”
If you are a schedule follower, put this time on the calendar, and do it at the same time every day. My family doesn’t keep a tight schedule that is consistent every day. For us, my kids just ask, “Can I have 10 minutes?” Almost always that answer is a “yes.” Of course, there are times when schedule restraints prevent an immediate yes to their request, so I sometimes have to tell them I need to make a call or finish something first and then we can have our time. But it’s only 10 minutes. Almost anything can wait 10 minutes.
What does it look like?
So, what does this “10 minutes” look like? It will be different for each child. Most importantly, your focus should be entirely on your child. No phones. No screens. No multitasking. And your child should pick the activity. My son likes to sit and talk most days, but some days, he really wants to wrestle. (He wins all the time.) My daughter puts on music and dances. I watch and clap on cue. It could be coloring, playing dolls, building with Legos, painting nails, talking about Minecraft, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Be sure to set a timer. For younger kids, a visual countdown can help them “see” the time, so there isn’t a fight when it’s over. If your children are working on telling time or basic math skills, ask them to calculate when 10 minutes is up before you start, so they’ll be ready when it’s done. Older kids and teens can set a timer on their phone.
Works with Teens, Too
If you have a teenager who is only interested in video games, try talking about the games with him or her. If they aren’t very chatty, ask them to teach you how to play their favorite game. You might have to get creative with the teens, but they will appreciate you spending time in their world and showing interest in what they are interested in.
We’ve been doing our “10 minutes” for about a year now, and my kids love it. They want their time. But life happens, and we’ve missed it for days or even weeks at a time before. Honestly, those times are also more stressful with more arguing and fighting, and, yes, more meltdowns. It’s amazing what a little bit of your undivided time can do for your kids. Try it! You won’t be disappointed.
If you want an extra bonus, start “10 minutes” with everyone important in your life: your spouse, your friends, your parents, etc. Oh, and for you too! I’ve definitely called a “10 minute Me Time.”
Jessica Price is a Writing and Reading Comprehension Coach at The Academy Virtual. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications/English and a Master’s degree in Professional Writing. She’s also trained in the Wilson Reading System and Wilson Just Words and taught students with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Her extensive background includes writing for newspapers and magazines, blogging, teaching, and publishing two books.