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Spending Just 9 Minutes A Day With Your Children Helps Create A Health Bond, Study Finds

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Spending Just 9 Minutes A Day With Your Children Helps Create A Health Bond, Study Finds

If you’ve ever scrolled through ‘MomTok’ (also known as the segment of TikTok dedicated to motherhood and parenting content), you’ve probably encountered videos discussing the pivotal minutes in a child’s day. These videos argue that nine minutes are vital for nurturing the parent-child relationship. However, in the realm of social media, not everything should be taken as gospel truth. So, is there validity behind the ‘nine-minute’ trend? Let’s delve deeper.

Exploring the Concept of Nine-minute Theory

So, what exactly are these crucial nine minutes? According to several TikToks on this subject, these nine minutes are segmented into three three-minute intervals:

  • The initial three minutes after a child wakes up
  • The subsequent three minutes post-school or daycare arrival
  • The final three minutes before bedtime

According to these TikToks, these specific moments possess the ability to impact a child’s life significantly.

Interestingly, this theory didn’t originate on TikTok. Psychologist Jaak Panksepp is credited with introducing this concept and is acknowledged as a pioneer in affective neuroscience.

Reena B. Patel, an esteemed parenting specialist, positive psychologist, and licensed educational board-certified behavior analyst, advocates for this theory and shares insights on how parents can incorporate this strategy into their daily routines.

Optimal Time Allocation for Parent-Child Interaction

Supporting Children During Vulnerable Daily Transitions

The pivotal hours highlighted in the nine-minute theory (wakeup, school-to-home transition, and bedtime) can be particularly unsettling for children.

“This is when they are most vulnerable,” mentioned Patel regarding these periods. “They are recalibrating their equilibrium and sense of security.”

“Establishing a sense of grounding and security is crucial. Transition phases tend to be the most apprehensive. Consider a child’s experience as they begin a new school day or activity,” added Patel. “As parents, maintaining consistency and a predictable routine is essential. This familiarity offers anticipation and comfort. When a child wakes up, the initial person they seek is often the primary caregiver, fostering a bond that instills security and trust.”

Fostering this Connection Promotes Lifelong Security

According to attachment theory, when a child perceives their primary caregiver as reliable and feels secure in that bond, the impact endures. This doesn’t imply that a child requires constant proximity to their caregiver; instead, it emphasizes creating moments of focused attention.

This bond is designed to provide an immediate sense of safety and understanding in early childhood, carrying forward into adulthood. Hence, dedicating quality, focused, uninterrupted time with your child is imperative,” explained Patel.

Patel emphasized that this principle isn’t restricted to young children. “I firmly believe it applies across all stages of child development,” she stated.

Addressing the After-School Phase

As a mother of two preschoolers, I comprehend the significance of those initial and final minutes of the day with my children. Our mornings and bedtime rituals often involve heartfelt moments of bonding through cuddles, chats, and relishing our time together.

However, the post-school period proves challenging in our household. The kids are usually hungry and a bit irritable for snacks, while I juggle work stress alongside helping them unwind from the day’s activities. This transition is demanding, but precisely why it holds potential for essential connections as the shift between school and home can be arduous for kids.

“View it as an opportunity for emotional check-ins,” suggested Patel on approaching this phase. “The notion that we ought to provide extensive solutions or bombard them with queries is misleading. Presence and focus do not demand a barrage of questions but rather establishing a supportive atmosphere where children can articulate their needs. Creating this safe space is crucial.”

Supporting Your Child During Transitions if You’re Away

For parents engaged in full-time work outside the home, being present during a child’s return from school might not be feasible. Nonetheless, Patel suggests methods to optimize this period for bonding.

“Sometimes, it could entail a brief FaceTime session while at work or engaging once you’re back home. Flexibility is key. The goal is direct, focused engagement. Often, we get preoccupied with external distractions like mail, emails, or phones. It’s crucial to set these distractions aside and be fully present, offering undivided attention,” remarked Patel.

View the Nine-minute Theory as a Framework, Not a Rigid Rule

It’s worth noting that the average American parent now spends more quality time with their children compared to past decades. If busy mornings or other factors impede a deliberate three-minute interaction at specific times, don’t allow this to fuel parental guilt. Patel recommends incorporating scattered opportunities throughout the day to connect with your child.”

Perceive this as a flexible guideline, aimed at fostering meaningful interactions without instigating undue pressure or stress. No need for alarm clocks or self-reproach over missed schedules,” Patel advised. “While carving out dedicated time is necessary, especially with multiple children, the focus isn’t on precise timing but on meaningful, concentrated engagements. The objective is to make your child feel valued, loved, secure, and cherished—this underpins the essence of this entire concept.”

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