By Kristyn Takana-Roche, LMFT
Photographers talk about the Golden Hour, a time of day an hour before sunset or an hour after sunrise in which the sun offers the perfect amount of light, at the perfect angle, with the perfect shade of warm colors for the perfect photos. This is not too different from the golden hour for talking with our kids. I’m sure you have all noticed that there are certain times of the day when your kids are more open to talking. They are able to have meaningful conversations, share their thoughts and feelings, have those more difficult talks, or receive or give feedback about the day. For some children that time may be in the morning during breakfast or after having a full belly. However, I’ve noticed that many kids’ golden hour is after they’ve gotten ready for bed and before they are ready to sleep. They seem to be in their most calm state, the least easily activated, and calmest state, and sometimes, are at their most vulnerable and open.
We have all tried to have those “teachable moments” in the heat of the moment. We try to calmly explain why hitting your sister is not an appropriate response to her drinking from your water bottle, while trying to keep our own calm as the situation escalates. Before we know it, we’ve been sucked into the chaos and there is no logic, coping skill, or breathing exercise in the world that can turn this chaos around. Then we tell ourselves, we tried, we explained to our child how to deal with the situation and they just won’t hear us.
You would be right in one way, that they don’t hear you. They don’t hear because they are not in the right state of mind to listen, or to absorb information and make sense of it. They are seeing red and your words mean little to nothing to them.
Now, I wonder what would happen if you have one of those “teachable moments” during the golden hour? Could they listen and absorb what you have to say then? This is also a great time to correct any mistakes you may have made during the day. For example, “This afternoon when you hit your sister, I yelled really loud at you. I’m sorry I did that. I was upset by the way you treated your sister, but that does not make it okay for me to yell. Did I hurt your feelings?” Being able to admit your mistakes can make it easier for your children to admit their own.
We all make mistakes. It is how we deal with the fallout that really matters and makes the most impact. Using that golden hour, that time in the day when your children are most open to really hearing you, can be such a powerful experience. I’d like to challenge you to use your child’s golden hour to have those teachable moments and those beautiful, quality conversations.