On the last track, we discussed Children’s Anger as Failed Communication. This included Stopping Opportunities for Empty Communication, and Listening for Children’s Self-Put-Downs. On the track before that, we talked about the Powerless Child Syndrome.
On the next two tracks, I'm going to provide you with a technique to assist parents in building more open lines of communication. You might consider playing tracks 6 and 7 in your next session.
Do you have clients who say that they have no time to spend with their children? How do you respond?
On this track, we will discuss The 5 Minutes Technique. As you listen, think about how you suggest your clients make time for their children. Compare your techniques with those presented on this track.
Because Kendall is the district manager for an insurance company, his wife and three children, ages 10, 7 and 5, have moved three times in the last three years. Kendall stated, "I desperately want to be able to connect with my children, but I simply have no time! I've chosen this very demanding lifestyle with my insurance job, and my wife is ok with that…but I'm starting to realize that our kids didn't choose my workaholic lifestyle, and they're starting to become resentful and distant…even on those few occasions when I can make time for my family, all our 10-year-old, Amber, does anymore is shut herself up in her room, Josh our 7-year-old, plays video games all the time and our youngest, Gloria, plays by herself. Any ideas on how I can make time with them?"
The Five Minutes Technique - 4 Characteristics
I stated, "I would suggest trying The 5 Minutes Technique. The 5 Minutes is a simple yet highly structured communication technique designed to provide children and adolescents with a reliable ongoing experience of genuine parental interest in their feelings, experiences, opinions, and desires. Four characteristics of this technique will include being Private and Uninterrupted, a Daily Occurrence, Not Competing with Any Other Activity and No Touching."
Characteristic 1 - Private and Uninterrupted
I continued to state, "First of all, the special scheduled time together is most effective if it is private and uninterrupted. However, of course with three children, limits need to be set by saying, "This is Amber's special time. You will have yours."
Private means that each parent may spend his or her Five Minutes alone with each child. This is because your children probably have a unique relationship with each of you, and feel comfortable expressing certain feelings to one parent rather than the other. Uninterrupted means literally, during those scheduled 5 minutes, you are not going to do anything or respond to anything that disrupts the process.
"You won’t go to the bathroom, answer the phone, look at your cell phone, or do anything other than to give 100% of your attention to Amber, for example. Try to pick a place where you won’t have to spend all of your time trying to deal with distractions. You are showing Amber how to be a good listener by modeling. If you don't want Amber to interrupt you when you're on the phone or talking to a neighbor, treat her as if she deserves the same consideration during her special 5 Minutes."
Characteristic 2 - Daily Occurrance
Kendall asked, "Can you really accomplish anything significant in 5 minutes?" I stated, "Children often respond best in conditions of consistency, continuity and predictability. What would Amber's reaction be if you started the process and then stopped it abruptly?" Kendall stated, "She'd probably think that she wasn't even worth 5 minutes to me…"
I stated, "Quite possibly. As brief as 5 minuets may be, it represents a commitment and an attitude of openness, acceptance, and interest whose full impact is not felt until it is withdrawn. It's not the amount of time spent daily that gives the special 5 Minutes its power, it's the fact that you do it day after day, month after month, year after year. It's the consistency and continuity over time that can convey to Amber, Josh and Gloria that you really do care, and that he or she can really tell you anything. As they get older and become more independent, I am sure you can see the value of your children feeling that they can tell you anything."
Kendall stated, "Well, sometimes interruptions are inevitable though…what if I have to take a business trip? If I miss the 5 Minutes 3 days in a row, do I need to do 15 minutes to make it up?" I stated, "If circumstances really do make you miss the 5 Minutes 3 days in a row, you just pick up where you left off and try to maintain the continuity as best you can. If the next 5 Minutes happens to develop into something longer and more meaningful, that's great, but no extra time is required. So, if Amber complains, 'I missed my special time when you were gone!' reassure her, 'Remember, we talk for 5 minutes before you start your homework?'"
Characteristic 3 - Not Competing with Any Other Activity
I stated, "Also, the special 5 Minutes shouldn't compete with any other activity, because significant communication cannot happen when you are distracted." Kendall stated, "What about in the car on the way somewhere?"
I stated, "If there are other children in the car, Amber, for example, may feel cheated out of her special time, because it is not private, and her siblings are bound to join in the conversation. So, evaluate the travel time if you're in heavy, stressful traffic, no, this would not be a good time. But, if the drive is a leisurely one, the drive home from soccer practice may be an excellent time."
I stated, "But it's perfectly possible to have a meaningful conversation with someone in the car! I've certainly done it before." Kendall asked, "Does that mean that the 5 Minutes has to happen in the same space continuously?" I stated, "Not at all. You can do the 5 Minutes practically anywhere, even in an airplane or a waiting room. Just try to find a place that's as private as possible."
Kendall stated, "I have a feeling that our 5-year-old, Gloria, will probably want to play games instead of talking. What's to be done about that?" I stated, "Just explain that there's lots of time to play together, but that this is your special 5 Minutes for talking and sharing feelings. Try not to get put off or feel that the process isn't working if Gloria says, 'Well, then I'm not talking!' In that case, you might respond, 'Sure you are! You're talking to me right now, so tell me how you felt when…etc.' and refer back to something that you know was meaningful to her. If Gloria is still not talking, don't worry. This is a process."
Characteristic 4 - No Touching
Touching can be a very subtle way of saying “I’m so close to you that you couldn’t possibly get upset at me, could you?” You may find that the content of the special 5 Minutes will be much richer if you stay in your space and your child can stay in his or hers. Kendall asked, “Can I sit on Amber’s bed? Is that ok?” I replied, “Sure, as long as you ask first. But make sure that you’re positioned so that it’s clear that you’re having your 5 Minutes and not just a time for cuddling." Kendall asked, "But what if it's something very traumatic or emotional? Can't I even console my children?"
I stated, "Of course you can. Just remember that if you rush too quickly to console your child, you may not hear the rest. Sometimes we as parents hate to see our children in pain, and want to stifle or stop their expression of, for example, anger, disappointment, or sadness. Therefore, by rushing in with hugs and kisses of consolation, may serve to quell our discomfort of needing to make it okay; but, in fact, may give the message, 'Stop feeling so sad, I can't handle your pain.' For this reason, if one of your children is a crier and a toucher, you may decide whether you need to be more of a stickler on the no touching rule."
On this track, we have discussed The 5 Minutes Technique. Characteristics of this technique have included being Private and Uninterrupted, a Daily Occurrence, Not Competing with Any Other Activity and No Touching.
On the next track, we will discuss The 5 Minutes Continued. This will include questions that other clients of mine asked me regarding their experiences with The 5 Minutes Technique and my responses to them.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 6
What are 4 characteristics of the 5 Minutes Technique?
To select and enter your answer go to .