Have you heard of the 9-minute theory?

Have you heard of the 9-minute theory?

Guilt is an emotion that often comes with raising children. Whether a parent stays home with their children or sends them to daycare, it’s easy to feel as though they aren’t doing enough. Spending enough quality time. Giving enough undivided attention. But one theory may help ease some of that guilt. 

Known as the “9-minute theory,” the concept suggests there are three key interactions in a day that help a child feel happier and more secure:

1. The first three minutes after waking

2. The three minutes after they come home from childcare or school

3. The last three minutes before bed

Although it’s known as the “9-minute theory,” the amount of time is less significant than the actual interaction at that point in time.  

Dr. Rebecca Mortland, a psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital, explains why those points in the day are so significant. 

“These moments give your child a ‘protected space’ and show your child you love and care for them,” she says. “Those quality moments add up to help keep them mentally and emotionally strong.”

Whether you are interacting with your child during those three times of day or any other time, the most important thing to remember is to be present. Leave your phone in another room. Focus on what your child is saying to you. Participate in the activity they would like to do.  

The 9-minute theory applies to children of all ages. For a young baby, the first three minutes after waking may be spent cuddling and making eye contact. A toddler may wake or come home from childcare immediately ready to play or read a book. Adolescents might talk about what their day at school looked like. Regardless of a child’s age, take that time to focus your attention on them.  

“Spending quality time with your child is important to them, but also to your own well-being. Meaningful connections will have lasting importance on them as they grow up into adulthood,” says Dr. Mortland.

Are you trying to find a pediatrician? Find one in Illinois or Wisconsin. 

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.