As parents, each of us tries our very best. There are no perfect parents and no perfect kids (thank goodness!). Since we all are pulled in what feels like a million different directions each day, we all search for ways to build our parenting toolkits. While time can be short, it’s a common goal to make our daily interactions with our children that much more meaningful.
Several years ago, neuroscientist Dr. Jaak Panksepp debuted his theory on how our children’s routines can be broken up into nine important minutes each day. Dr. Panksepp explored what role parents play during these minutes. He goes on to say that the “larger the sphere of positive emotions” that a child has with a loved one, the more likely they are to become a productive and happy member of society.
According to Dr. Panksepp, the nine most important minutes of our children’s days are:
- the three minutes after they wake up
- the three minutes after they get home from school or daycare
- the three minutes before they go to bed
While most times it comes naturally for us to talk to our children, there can be moments where finding a topic can be challenging. We all want to know what goes on in their little heads, but how do we get there?
Fortunately, Learning Resources has conversation tools for just that. Their Let’s Talk! Cubes and the Conversation Cubes are the perfect kick-starts for any dialogue with your child. With questions and prompts like “What is your happiest memory?” or “Name something you want to buy”, these soft cubes serve the perfect purpose of igniting conversation.
Let’s put these soft foam conversation-starters in action. For example, here’s what a day can look like focusing on those precious nine minutes:
The First Three Minutes: 7 a.m.
Rise and shine time! What a sunrise!
Both the Conversation and Let’s Talk Cubes feature 36 engaging questions. Some questions are simple to answer, and some require a little more thought. Either way, as your sleepyhead starts their day, get the conversation going on with either set of the cubes.
The Second Three Minutes: 3 p.m.
While Dr. Panksepp suggests that the three minutes after school are crucial, many parents aren’t always there for that timeframe. Look more at the three minutes when you reunite with your child or children after being separated for several hours – after daycare, after the sitter drops them back home, or grabbing them from an after-school activity. A lot of the time, chatting in the car seems to happen organically!
Getting kids to talk and share is the name of the game. The Let’s Talk! and Conversation Cubes offer dialogue prompts really targeted at a child’s social-emotional learning (SEL). Countless studies discuss the benefits of SEL when it comes to building the foundation of learning and growing. The process of SEL has proven to help children manage emotions and maintain positive relationships.
So, carve out some time before they start that math homework!
The Last Three Minutes: 8 p.m.
Now, it’s time to wind down and call it a day. Nighttime conversations are can be some of the most open and honest. Most of the time, it’s not just a simple download of school or daycare activities. It might very well be a true reflection of what’s on their mind. A perfect time for the conversation cubes…
No matter how young or old, children who develop strong early relationships with parents, family, or teachers really learn how to get along with others, cooperate, and pay attention in school. Therefore, everyone benefits from time spent talking with each other, even if it’s compact as those nine important minutes.
Save it for later!