A behavior analyst explained the “5-minute rule” her family uses to improve their communication
Even for adults, communication isn’t always easy. So when kids, who are still learning essential skills like regulating their emotions and properly conveying their thoughts and feelings, are involved, it can be even harder. That’s why this mom’s “5-minute rule” makes so much sense. In a viral video, she explains how it helps her family communicate much more honestly, and we bet that after watching it, a lot of parents are going to want to try it out.
Behavioral analyst and parenting coach Mandy Grass, who goes by @thefamilybehaviorist online, explained that the “5-minute rule” was something her parents used when she was a kid and that she’s added it to her own parenting repertoire.
“Basically, you could ask for five minutes at any time and it guaranteed a calm conversation,” she said. “Usually, five minutes was to confess to wrongdoing. So growing up, I could say to my parents at any time, ‘Hey I need five minutes,’ and they would sit down, and they would listen, and there would be no yelling, no screaming, it would be a calm conversation.”
She further explained that that didn’t mean the conversation was a free pass without consequences. She would often still be punished for the “wrongdoing” she was confessing to. But she always knew that if she asked for five minutes, she and her parents would have a rational conversation about it, and that removed a lot of the stress—for her and for her parents.
Now that she’s using the technique with her own kids, Grass said that modeling the behavior has actually given her the chance to tell the truth to her kids when she otherwise might not have. “For example, my daughter came down and said, ‘Hey, where’s my artwork?’ And I said, ‘I need five minutes,'” she said. “‘I think I cleaned it up. I think I threw it out when I cleaned up the counter. I’m really sorry.'”
Calm truth-telling is as aspirational as it gets—whether it’s a little kid admitting to messing around with their mom’s makeup or scribbling on walls or an older kid explaining that they lost their phone or snuck out of the house. But being able to cop to these behaviors without having to worry about an emotional (or explosive) response makes it far more likely to be commonplace.
For families looking for more open communication, this might be just the trick to try.