How 7 Minutes Every Day Can Change Your Child's Life

Photo: Elina Fairytale | Canva 
Mother talking to son uninterrupted after school

Did you ever have someone give you their complete attention? Think about how good you felt. You felt seen, heard, and maybe even loved. In our hustle-and-bustle world, truly connected time — with no distractions — is rare. 

But that's what kids need, again and again and again: our complete attention. Of course, all parents have multiple responsibilities and cannot give total attention all day long. The good news is, it only takes a few mintes each day to make a difference in your child's life. 

Here is a simple, but profound homework assignment for you.

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How to dedicate seven minutes every day and change your child's future:

1. Make the choice to dedicate one-on-one time to be truly present 

Here are a few examples of times you can choose to be fully present:

—While helping with homework. Not only will this help your child succeed in school, it will show them that you care about their studies.

—In the car or as you make dinner. Sometimes eye-to-eye contact can be overwhleming to a child, so dedicating time to just talking and listening while you do something else can open up the lines of communication. Just be sure you're truly listening!

2. Create a time when they can rely upon quiet, focused time with you

Make a habit of talking at the foot of their bed while they settle in to sleep, or of eating breakfast together. Put away any distractions like your cell phone and just listen and share. 

3. Keep these seven minutes as positive as possible

Just remember — it's a magical time between you and the child that will help them feel good about themselves for the rest of their life!

If you have to give criticism during this time, make sure you sandwich it between some positive, loving, truthful remarks.

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4. Focus on the positive 

Here's are a few examples of what not to do, based upon families I've spoken with in the past: 

Tony, 8, was already feeling bad about himself. He was trying to hide a spelling paper in his backpack, but Mom was too quick for him. "I see you got 4 wrong on your spelling test! How many times have I told you to study the night before? What's wrong with you? School is your job!"

Samantha, 10, came in crying. "The kids teased me again for being fat. I hate it, and I hate them!" Mom retorted, "Well, make sure you don't run into the kitchen like you usually do and grab some food you don't need!"

Yes, these are heartbreaking and it's impossible to image a parent being so cruel. But these sorts of scenes happen.

The essence is helping kids recognize their talents, strengths, and potential.

They need to recognize their positive capacities and be able to tap into them. Otherwise, the pitfalls and disappointments of life are enough to usually make a child feel very bad about him or herself. Tony and Samantha both felt bad about disappointments, but both were exaggerated and made to feel worse by parents who didn't pick up on how much these children needed to recognize and utilize what was positive about themselves.

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5. Take some time to make a plan and think about your role

First, you must recognize and encourage your child's talents, strengths, and potential. Tony may have trouble spelling, but he might be a great older brother to his 3-year-old sister, teaching her how to do puzzles and playing with her. Samantha may eat too much, but she may already show capacities to be a great cook someday. Maybe a nutritious cooking course for kids is what she needs, not criticism from her mom when she's teased.

The bottom line is in the case of children, two things need to happen. They need to feel they're special, and you need to learn how to give them that feeling. It's not just pointing out talents or working on a list of potential abilities as we might do with adults. It's at a more organic level. They need to know at the deepest cellular level that we think they are great. Not just that we love them but that they are the sun and the moon in our eyes.

Do this "homework" as often as possible, and your child will give you an A plus! 

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Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is a positive psychologist, a best-selling author, and an award-winning Selfie Filmmaker focusing on coming-of-age issues for girls and women. She is also a noted podcaster. Many of her shows and interviews can be found on YouTube and Vimeo.