It is no secret that life is busy. Between working, cooking, cleaning, school, transportation, and activities, it is a wonder that we even have time to bathe! With the increasing demands on our everyday lives it can be difficult to take the time we need to create quality connections with our children. It is more important than ever that we find the time by making the most of our moments.
It began as a way to keep my kids at the dinner table long enough to eat a full meal. It has turned into a treasured few minutes in each day that we get to connect and grow as a family. You can find several versions of this exercise out there. We call ours, “Highs, Lows, and Goals.” It can be called whatever you want and it doesn’t have to be done at dinner. We have done it before bed, in the car, at bath time, even over Facetime! Walking to or from the bus stop? Perfect! The kids never let me forget. And I’m glad that they don’t.
Here is how it works. Each person gets a turn, and it goes like this:
1A: What was the best part of your day?
1B: What did you learn from it?
2A: What was the hardest part of your day?
2B: What did you learn from it?
3A: What was your goal for today?
3B: What did you do toward meeting your goal?
3C: What is your goal for tomorrow?
Easy, right? The answers can be as simple or as complex as you want.
- “The best part of my day was eating a snack! I learned that I loooove peanut butter on my apples.”
- “The hardest part of my day was seeing my friend cry because someone made fun of her at recess. What I learned was that making fun of other people is really hurtful, and I would never want to make someone feel sad like my friend did today.”
Younger children may need some coaching at first to come up with ideas, but you will be surprised at how quickly they catch on. Everyone gets to chime in and talk about the things that are brought up, or help brainstorm what can be learned. It opens dialogue, encourages mindfulness, and nurtures connection. It allows for a safe place to talk about hard stuff. One thing to keep in mind is the importance of your word choice. Framing the questions from a more positive perspective will not only encourage more strengths-based thinking, it will also guide children to see a more constructive side of difficult times in life. (For example, asking about the hardest part of their day inspires different thought patterns than asking about the worst part of their day.)
You will sometimes hear about teaching children “out of the moment.” This is a great way to do that. It gives you as the caregiver the perfect opportunity to teach lessons when you are not disciplining for something they have just done wrong. We all hear things far better when we are not being told that we made a mistake, and this is how we fix it.
It takes just a few moments. It is easy to do on-the-run. And it makes a world of difference in the relationships with those you love. We may not have nearly as much time as we want, but we can choose to make the most of what we have.