Can parenting - effective parenting - be achieved in one minute? Probably not… But minutes do add up! Let me introduce you to a concept I like to call the “Threshold Principle”, that takes advantage of those important ‘one minute’ time slots of your child’s day!
Possibly the three most crucial times of your child’s day are:
- When they leave the house in the morning
- When they arrive home in the afternoon
- When they go to sleep at night.
It may seem simple, yet what happens during those times can shape their whole day, night or even part of their development. Each of these ‘one minute’ moments are a ‘threshold’ moment. I call these ‘threshold’ moments because a threshold is a place at which you cross over something… where your child is leaving one place and arriving at another.
For some reason these transitional moments are points of time that are key for a child’s sense of well-being, connection and memory. It’s the same reason that the brief moments of greeting and goodbyes (as short as they are) are so critical in close relationships.
In marriage, for example, when these little habits disintegrate, or when a husband or wife doesn’t say hello or goodbye with any sense of meaning or closeness, it is often a sign of a breakdown in the health of their relationship.
These threshold moments happen in our friendships too - have you ever noticed that when a party is ending and people are leaving, that all the best conversations seem to start? A great amount of affection and emotion rises to the surface… and then people don’t want to leave? It’s these passing moments that can have the biggest impact on others.
For your child, he or she crosses three major thresholds that you can be a part of:
As they leave the house…
The threshold moment as the kids leave the house for the day is vitally important and a great opportunity to set your child up to win. Those key words you say to them as they cross the ‘threshold’ of the home to the big wide world, make all the difference to how they engage with the day and with others. Saying simple things like: “I love you” “You are going to win today” “Stay strong” “Be confident” “I believe in you” etc etc.
As they arrive home…
When they arrive home, they are leaving their school day behind and crossing over into the home world! How they are greeted can make or break their experience in this new world called home. They may have had a shocking day at school… but the first moments of seeing and hearing you reshapes their mindset and their preparation for the next few hours of their day.
As they go to sleep…
How you treat the sleep threshold is so important as well. I have been in several homes where people just ‘disappear’ off to bed. There are no “Goodnights”, no hugs, no kisses, no greetings, no moments of intimacy at the point of going to sleep. They just go to bed and to their own room without a moment of transition.
Of course, this threshold moment is of special significance because the child is transitioning from awake to asleep, and is in a sort of ‘twilight’ zone where there is both sensitivity and openness. It can also determine how well and deeply they sleep and, of course, rest.
When our kids were going to sleep (after all the other rituals and routines to get them there) we tried to give each of them a moment with one of us as parents where we would talk with them quietly, pray for them, talk with them about something that was on their mind, sit with them and just hold them… anything to get them across that threshold well.
It always amazed me how precious and significant that short little time was each night. It always took a little effort to make it happen, especially in the crazy chaos of young family life - but it was certainly worth it!
Even as the kids entered the preteen and teenage years, it continued as a habit in our family. Of course, the way we used that moment and what we talked or prayed about changed, but it remained a key moment of bonding and connection between us and our kids. It also provided an atmosphere of security for our teenagers as they negotiated their way through those somewhat challenging years at school and with peers.
So, there you have it! Maybe the ‘one minute parent’ may seem like an oversimplified concept, but the fact remains that the use of these key moments in a child’s day - the ‘thresholds’ - can build a greater bond, and you can impart peace, security, and provide an opportunity to instill confidence in your child.