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15 Minutes a Day

Time with Your Child

Research around parenting seems to agree: Uninterrupted time with our children is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy attachment with them. It supports the relationship, helps reduce negative behaviors, and builds trust. Spending just 15 minutes per day with your child in play, conversation, and interaction can have a major impact on your child – and on you!

Children crave the attention of their caregivers. Parenting programs like The Incredible Years suggest that children will seek any form of attention – good or bad. So, this parenting program recommends parents spend 15 minutes per day with their child in order to provide them with the attention they crave in a positive way so the child will be less likely to act out negatively.

These 15 minutes may be hard to find at first, but we know from experience that planning those 15 minutes in advance and honoring that time will cut down on time spent correcting children’s negative behavior. For instance, if a parent plans to give the first 15 minutes when home after a long work day to their child, they may end up having a nicer evening. Those 15 minutes may include playing a game, talking with kids about their day, or taking a walk.

Many of us interact with our children often throughout the day, but how much of that time is uninterrupted and focused solely on the relationship between parent/child? How much of that time is spent in multi-tasking in our busy world? We recommend that during this 15 minutes of your day, phones are turned off (or put away), televisions are turned off, and the time is honored as parent/child time.

Some parents have honestly reported that they are fearful to start this 15 minutes of time, because ending it at 15 minutes is difficult and leads to meltdowns. This negative behavior can happen, but we have seen it work well with the following preventative measures in place.

Explain to your child that you will spend 15 minutes each day with them in play. Set a timer for 15 minutes, explain to your child what will happen when the timer goes off, and then play. When the timer goes off, stop play, tell your child how much you loved the time with them and how much you look forward to your time tomorrow, and then head to the task you planned to do. Over time, children will learn to trust that they will have that uninterrupted time with you each day.

Research shows that when you start spending this time with your child, without dividing your attention with other things, you will begin to see increased positive behavior from your child. If you try it, we would love to hear how it works for you!

-Audra Kenneson, LMSW-Mental Health & Foster Care Coordinator