simple moments of joy

Simple Moments of Joy: Small Actions That Impact Our Kids in a Big Way

Creating simple moments of joy with our children is important. These times together make lasting impressions on our children’s hearts. This is something that I learned two years ago. Today, I am excited to share my very first blog post. I initially wrote it as a guest post for Jenny’s site. As the two of us move forward in combining our blogs, I thought today would be an appropriate time to re-share it. Here is how I discovered that simple moments of joy make a big difference–especially when there are popcorn and chocolate chips involved!

Simple Moments of Joy

What do psychology, chocolate chips, popcorn, and a five-year-old have in common? It turns out a lot! In the 1960s, psychology took a huge leap forward when Carl Rogers began teaching Person-Centered Therapy. Prior to this, therapists were impersonal. Their job was to remain a “blank slate.” The Therapist would sit behind his clients so his face couldn’t be seen. The therapist’s goal was to interpret his client’s experiences without influencing them with his own feelings.

Then, Carl Rogers changed everything. In person-centered therapy, therapists gave up their role as experts and began treating their clients as equals. Instead of hiding their feelings, they were taught to be congruent–meaning their feelings on the inside matched the emotions they showed on the outside. Today, we would refer to this as being real. Under Rogers’ tutelage, therapists were taught to be empathetic listeners and to demonstrate unconditional positive regard–or to encourage and believe in others, regardless of their past.

Carl believed that empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard, are the necessary and sufficient conditions for positive change. These ingredients create a magical environment where growth happens naturally. These are not only outstanding tools for therapists, they are also powerful tools that parents can use to connect with their children. Empathy, congruence, and positive regard are key ingredients to creating simple moments of joy!

The Psychology of Popcorn and Chocolate-Chips

It was an exceptionally busy Thursday. I woke up with my mind racing. I wondered how I was going to survive the onslaught of activities headed our way. In addition to a full day of work, there were also the children’s piano lessons and two open houses to attend. To further complicate things, the open houses were at different schools and scheduled at the exact same time. To top this off, Brooklyn–our five-year-old–had a minimum day. This meant less time for work and more schedule juggling. I still get a nervous twitch when I think back to all of the business. Fortunately, on this particular day, this massive muddle of activity collided to form a masterpiece. Here’s how things worked out:

That afternoon, Jenny dropped Brooklyn off at home and raced off to take care of errands. I was in the middle of a big work project and needed to focus. Thinking quickly, I pulled a craft for Brooklyn out of our art bin. Brooklyn happily engaged in her activity while I typed away. After finishing the most urgent work projects, I paused for a break. Brooklyn and I microwaved a bag of popcorn, and we added in a handful of chocolate chips for fun.

moments of joy

During our break, I gave Brooklyn my undivided attention. she shared about her day at school, talked about her new friends, and other important stuff in her five-year-old world. I’m always amazed at how much she shares when I take the time to listen. After about fifteen minutes, it was time to get back to work. The rest of the day was a whirlwind of activity.

Here is the best part. At one point, while our family was racing from one school to the next, I overheard Brooklyn tell her sister, “Kenzie, today daddy and I had a special time together. We made popcorn and ate chocolate chips… and it was the best popcorn ever!” In the midst of our chaotic day, these simple moments of joy made all the difference! Simple moments of joy with our children make a lasting impression on their hearts. Brooklyn’s words reminded me that being fully present with our children, and listening to what they have to say, is a powerful parenting tool. Of course, popcorn and chocolate chips help too!

It’s easy to get so caught up in the events of the day that we forget to connect with our kids. I’m guilty of this more often than I would like to admit. On this particular day, I was fortunate enough to get things right. How about you? Have you seen the power of empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard at work in your home? What are some of the magical moments of joy and connection you have with your own kids? I look forward to continuing the conversation in the comments below!

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at

26 thoughts on “Simple Moments of Joy: Small Actions That Impact Our Kids in a Big Way”

  1. Good morning from your neighbor over at Holley’s! Celebrating life and love, sharing and friendship with you as we start off another day. Blessings!

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I learned a lot about therapy history; it is amazing what a little bit of empathy can do! I can’t wait to put this to use with my kids today. I hope your words influence more people to spend valuable time with their kids, as well. Visiting from Pat and Candy link party.

  3. You are practicing what I preach! It is not about the cost of the item, the toy, the activity it is about the experience and the memory it is going to make on our kids life and heart. My childhood memories are of moments, not things and I work hard to make sure that I give this gift to my three little divas! Such a great post and it really is the little things that count!

  4. Oh how I love those simple moments…the therapy switch back in the 60’s had its good and its bad though…it began teaching the parents to put children at the centre of everything…not good for society unfortunately…but with the bad, there is always the good…and having emotions out in the open, being real, is definitely a plus! Great read!

  5. Chocolate chips make all moments special! It is always surprising how intentionally adding a one-on-one moment in the day changes everything! Beautiful parenting point and insight!

  6. You are a great mom for even writing about this 🙂 wish my own my mom was more intentional with her time with me as well. I know though that she just wanted to make money for us to live and eat, but I still needed that attention from her 🙁 I will try to be intentional now that I have my own daughter, but I do fear that I will end up just like my own mother.

  7. I learned this with my daughters, too. And the neat thing, we can slide right into doing it with our grandchildren. Tea parties are important, and using the good china cups makes even a little girl happy. It’s the little rituals that make our children feel safe. I’ll have to try the popcorn and chocolate chips.

  8. Why do we have to get all “adult” and think we have to do something great to have a moment with our kids? Thanks for this reminder. My daughter has been asking for hot chocolate for 2 days. I think she and I have a special hot chocolate date in the morning!

  9. What a great story and what a blessing that you overheard her say that to her sister. I am learning this more and more as my children grow, that I really need to be intentional about focusing on them and creating these special moments. We love to play cards together or watch movies together and I treasure these times, because I know one day my children will be grown and on their own.

  10. Jed, Thanks for this reminder to not get so caught up in busyness that we miss out on special moments in life, especially with our kids. Although our kids have been homeschooled, there’s still the drive to get things done, at the expense of quality time together. I’ve found I have to be purposeful about just hanging out, putting the iPhone away and just living in the moment.

  11. I think at times as adults we are creating these times of joy for our children, but are we having joy with it as well. I know I need to find that joy more often. Really interacting with your children is the pain key to having joy with them. Thank you for this post!

  12. Thank you for this great post! It seems there are not enough hours in the day sometimes, with errands and activities planned. I try to spend quality time with my sons also doing things they are interested in. Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you all link up again this week 🙂

  13. Our youngest daughter cannot stand to view a gift wrapped up, and loves to open presents. Thus when I was grocery shopping and picked up a surprise for her, I would wrap it up first in pretty paper and tie it good. She may not remember now after all these years, but at the time, she was thrilled. Spending those 15 minutes and throwing in the chocolate chips with the pop corn, made a memory your daughter will never forget. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a True Story.

  14. I loved reading this. It’s a good reminder to me that it connecting with people and finding moments of joy doesn’t have to be anything time consuming or fancy. I’ve never tried chocolate chips with my popcorn. That sounds good!
    Thanks for linking with Grace and Truth last week.

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