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The Most Important 9 Minutes of a Kid’s Day

By Courtney Rasche

Kids are complex little humans. They are very impressionable. They soak in every ounce of attention we give them, even the negative. They are learning how to manage this world, how their body works, how they respond to people, and how people respond to them and their actions. It is our job as parents to keep in mind those 9 minutes when they are MOST impressionable. The first 3 minutes after they wake up, the first 3 after school and last 3 minutes before they go to sleep.  

So what can we do in these short amounts of time, to make them meaningful and positive? 

3 Minutes After They Wake Up

In the morning, we may be rushing around, ripping covers off kids and telling them to pick up the pace, packing lunches, confirming pick-up arrangements, packing sports equipment, and trying to make ourselves look less tired and presentable. We can still make time for a positive THREE minutes. Maybe we can set our alarms 3 minutes early, and spend those minutes sitting together for a quick and calm breakfast. Or use those three minutes to wake them up more gently, play their favorite music and dance for 3 minutes to get the blood flowing. Even as adults, those first 3 minutes after our eyes open can set the tone for the whole day!   

3 Minutes After School/Daycare

The first three minutes after you pick up your child from school, daycare, after school care or a sitter’s house are so important because our children have had several hours of jam packed emotions! Learning new things, fun encounters with friends, challenging topics, possibly some negative interactions. It is up to us to help their growing brains organize all of those feelings into a conversation and help to explain the weight each of those emotions. They may feel like at recess when Susie wouldn’t play what they wanted to, it is now the worst day ever. Or maybe they were brave and raised their hand to ask a question and got made fun of and now are scared to participate.  It is very important to validate their feelings! Have an open heart and mind while going into these questions.

Here are five questions to ask your child to get the conversation going:

– What was something one of your classmates did today that made you laugh?
– What was one way that you were kind to someone else?
– Who was your favorite friend today? Why?
– What was the most challenging thing you had to do today?
– Was there anything that upset you?

Starting with a lighter question will get their minds replaying the day so they will be more mentally prepared for tougher questions. These questions are open-ended to encourage them to share more. By asking if anything upset them at school, they could say “no” instead of sharing that they ran out of their favorite dessert at lunch, or a friend said something mean to/about them, or a particular subject is unusually difficult right now. Whatever they disclose to you, it is important to not discount it! It’s OK to take a deep breath before responding.

3 Minutes Before Bed 

This is a great time to focus on gratitude! Even if our little ones experienced a rough day, we can always help them to hunt out the good! Take turns saying what you are grateful for. Share with your children what it is about them that you love, and makes you proud. Praise them for doing a good deed, or an extra chore. Let them go to sleep feeling on top of the world, at peace and being genuinely happy and knowing they are so very loved. 

The rest of the day is full of moments where parents can apply all of the above information to really help raise a thoughtful, confident, resilient little human!