An hour at the gym? Fewer snacks? Less time on Facebook?!? How about a New Year’s resolution you can actually get excited about—like having fun with your kids every day?
A resolution like this will not only have you enjoying getting into your kids’ worlds, but it will also help you improve their behavior (it’s true!) and develop a closer relationship. And all it takes is 10 minutes a day with each child.
Here’s the idea: kids are hard-wired to need attention from us every day. If they don’t receive a sufficient dose of our attention in positive ways, they’ll resort to negative behavior—whining, power struggles, interrupting, etc.—to get it. With this New Year’s Resolution, however, you’ll be meeting their needs for attention during your 10 minutes with each child and reaping the benefits all day, every day.
Sound as impossible as a daily 5 a.m. run? Read on for how to make it work, and why it’s not that hard.
Ten Minutes, Per Child, Per Day
I call this tool Mind, Body and Soul Time, and it’s a game-changer. Mind, Body and Soul Time is a commitment to spend…
10 minutes of one-on-one quality time with each child,
on their terms,
doing what they like to do.
Sure, you might find yourself playing a game of Candyland, scouting out new music, retrieving free throws or pretending to be a monster, but in so doing you’ll be strengthening your relationship and giving your kids what they want most—you and your time! Filling your kid’s attention basket positively and proactively is the single most effective way to improve behavior and keep negative attention-seeking antics at bay.
And if the thought of finding extra time to spend with your kids strikes panic in your mind? Fear not. Whether your schedule is already packed or your kids would rather keep company with flesh-eating aliens than their own parents, this commitment is within just about any parent’s reach.
Here’s how to make it work:
Make it a Promise. Add Mind, Body and Soul Time to your daily routine to ensure it happens. If you’ll have to miss it, treat it like you would a meeting at work or with a friend, and schedule a time (in writing) to make it up.
A New Day, a New Idea. Mind, Body and Soul Time doesn’t have to happen at home, or in the same way each time. Play car wash in the bath, hold a conversation about superheroes on the way home from school or venture to your teen’s favorite store in the mall.
As long as it’s one-on-one time and you are fully present in mind, body and soul, it counts. Try, however, to avoid technology activities, as the best connections happen face to face.
Get Credit. Be sure to label Mind, Body and Soul Time at the outset (you can call it whatever you want) and when it’s finished, say, “I sure enjoyed our special time today! I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!” Your child will benefit from knowing you’re committed to your time, plus you’ll get credit in his mind for time well spent.
And while it may feel like a tricky adjustment at first, keep in mind that providing plenty of good stuff (one-on-one time and attention) in positive ways will pay off huge dividends as your kids’ emotional needs are regularly met. Think of Mind, Body and Soul Time as an investment. You’ll get that time back 10-fold in good behavior.
And of all the resolutions you might consider this year in your quest for Pinterest-worthy perfection, this is going to be the one with the most enduring impact. If you only do one, do Mind, Body and Soul Time—while you may regret that fad diet, you’ll always be grateful for the time you spent with your kids.
TODAY Parenting contributor, Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the bestselling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. Learn more about free parenting webinars with Amy McCready.