The 15 Minute Solution

26 Jun

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This is not about Sherlock Holmes but you might feel like you just solved a mystery when you apply this 15 minute solution technique consistently with your children.  Our generation had been told that it is critical for kids to have strong self -esteem.  That sounds like a simple enough thing to foster and as one thing led to another, it seemed that actually teaching skills took a back seat  to bolstering our children’s  oh so fragile self-esteem.  Unfortunately, these children are now stepping out of the cocoon of academia, some with degrees, some without, (but who needs a degree when you are so naturally awesome), and find themselves suddenly facing the hard realities of life in the real world with no real life tools. It has left them, and us, as the parents and grand parents of these kids, asking the question: How can you help children develop strong self-esteem without creating an entitlement monster?

Of course this question is bigger than a blog post, but if you break it down into its most basic components this little practice is a good way to start.

When the kids have been to school all day or out at an activity and are returning home I always give them my undivided attention for the first 15 minutes.  That means that Facebook, phone, email, TV, magazines, even cooking dinner (unless they are happy helping) is off-limits.  This is harder to do than it sounds but it is well worth the effort.  What this does is tells your kids, with your actions, that they are the most important thing in the world to you.  This is when they will share with you what is important to them in this snapshot in time.  It may be that they saw the coolest yellow caterpillar inching across the sidewalk this morning, or that they heard Johnny say a word and they were not sure what it means, (you can use your imagination here), or that they got an award for spelling today that they had struggled to earn.

After 15 minutes you tell them that you have some work to do so would they go play, or do their homework, or clean their room, so you can get your work done.   This practice of investing the first 15 minutes with genuine loving focus on the kids has served me and all my kidlets well and I invite you to try it and see what happens.  It is a great first building block to fostering healthy self-esteem.  The confidence that this gives them by letting them feel their importance to you,  and by being heard by you, will reduce their need to constantly vie for your attention by less pleasant means.

Do you have a favorite practice to help your kids develop a healthy sense of self, or acquire life skills.  If so, please share.  I would love to hear about it.


2 Responses to “The 15 Minute Solution”

  1. Kristin Barton Cuthriell June 26, 2012 at 4:27 PM #

    That 15 minutes is so important! It lets your children know that you are interested in them and their day. Children will assume the world sees them as you do. Show them that they are worthy of your time and attention and then go back to doing what needs to be done. Great post. As a therapist, educator, and mother of two, I could not agree more.

    • queenoffamilosity June 26, 2012 at 4:37 PM #

      Kristin, thank you for your comment. What you said about children assuming that the world sees them as you do felt like a lightbulb going off. I never really framed it that way in my thinking but it is so true.

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