I read something this week that I would like to share with you. There are nine minutes that have the greatest impact on a child’s day. They are first three minutes right after they wake up, the first three minutes when they get home from school, and the three minutes right before bed. This information hit home for me, making so much sense.
The first three minutes after a child wakes up are crucial because it’s how we set the day. What we allow into our headspace first thing in the morning truly sets our mood. We may not even realize how much we are affected.
For instance, if your child starts their day immediately with a device, they begin with blue light. They will probably spend most of their day looking at their phone or computers at school, which causes eye strain. Starting the day with blue light stresses your child’s eyes and brain. Secondly, and most importantly, what they watch first sets the tone. Watching something that is upsetting, hurtful, or frustrating can lead to your child feeling these emotions before they begin their day.
Conversely, a positive effect can be if they use their device to watch something uplifting or encouraging. For example, suppose they are meditating, reading, exercising, or listening to uplifting podcasts. In that case, these are beautiful ways to use their devices to start the day positively.
The first three minutes they get home from school are challenging as they try to process the day. Home is often their safe space to let the day’s emotions start unwinding. (It is also why your kid may be a pain to you and not a nuisance to their teacher. Home is where they feel comfortable to release these emotions they may have been storing all day.) This is a great time to step away from the phone. Please encourage your child/teen to take time to decompress a bit. To let their brain rest and settle before taking on the evening and jumping into school work or chores.
The last three minutes before bed are also critical because this is when your child tries to unwind from the entire day. Using a device to do this is counter-productive. Referencing back to the blue light emissions, blue light from phones triggers the brain to think it is daytime. And it will keep your child awake.
Many of our youth today struggle with insomnia for this very reason. Before bed is a crucial time to help the brain settle. Our brains need rest in order to heal and recover for the next day. If your child is on their device all night, they are sacrificing sleep and not giving their brain ample time to recover. Ideally, the device should be put away at least 30 minutes before bed. Establish a good, positive routine for the three minutes before they go to sleep.
If you have noticed your child experiencing more anxiety lately and less sleep, look at these nine minutes of their day and see if there is room for improvement. You may be surprised how much little changes in those nine minutes can make such a massive difference in the overall mood for the day!
Kristi Bush serves as a national education consultant and social media safety advocate. She is a licensed social worker with greater than 15 years of clinical practice and health care experience. She attended Troy and Auburn University where she studied social work and counseling. Kristi travels nationally and has spoken with thousands of children, parents, professionals and organizations about the benefits and threats associated with social media. You may reach Kristi through her website at www.knbcommunications.com.