‘Five Minutes’ with kids can make a big difference


Parenting is a demanding job in today’s busy world of families. My husband and I used to spend time each evening with both of our boys individually at bedtime. It became a time of bonding, but also of instilling values we held deeply.

Years ago, in my work with children, I came across “The Five Minutes” in “Healing the Hurt Child” by Denis M. Dono­van and Deborah McIntyre. The purpose is to improve child/adolescent parent communication and to help the child or adolescent feel genuinely understood.

The rules are:

(1) The time together is to be private and uninterrupted (one-on-one).

(2) The “Five Minutes” is not to compete with any other activity. The parent is to gently remind the child/adolescent that, “This is our special time together, and we can do activities any time.”

(3) Barring impossible situations, the “Five Minutes” should take place every day. (If a particular “Five Minutes” happens to develop into an extended period of genuine discussion, that is fine. But “more is better” only if it develops naturally.)

(4) The relationship is, of necessity, an unbalanced one. It is the child/adolescent who needs to feel understood and accepted by the parent, not the parent by the child.

The three rules for parents have to do with listening to your child without: (1) Explain­ing, (2) Excusing, or (3) Offering alternative perspectives or advice.

I must confess that our special times would often involve more than five minutes, but they were precious times that we hold in our hearts. I highly recommend this for busy parents who need to connect with their children.

Joyce Kyle, a licensed specialist clinical social worker, is one of four therapists at Client Centered Counseling, 105 E. Kansas, McPherson; 620-241-2300.


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