It’s 7:00 p.m. at the end of another busy day. Between long hours at work, commuting time, shuttling your kids between activities, figuring out dinner, and helping with homework, you’re one very tired parent. You know you need to spend some “quality time” with your children, but you can’t imagine where you will find an extra hour in your day or how you will summon the energy to do so.

But what if you knew that carving out some time with your kids could actually boost their IQ by up to 20 percent? And, that “quality time” isn’t necessarily what society is trying to guilt you into thinking it is? 

In today’s busy world, it’s easy for parents to feel overloaded with the responsibilities of work and parenting. As children get older and become more involved with activities and friends, you may find yourself scrambling to find any semblance of what you believe is “quality time” with your children. Yet, quality time doesn’t have to be as planned out and stressful as you think, and the key for optimal health, growth, and even a potential big boost in your child’s IQ is simply your involvement.

You are the key

As parents, you are the number one most effective source of stress relief in your child’s life, and that time spent together as a family has a profound impact on your child’s academics. Since the 1980’s, I’ve been studying the effects of parental involvement in school performance and children’s stress levels, and my research shows thatacademic and social performance in 3 – 17 year olds skyrockets with just small increments of focused time with parents.

What does this mean? It means that you can relinquish the stress that you put upon yourself to turn every single moment with your child into a big “learning” experience production. What you teach your children by simply being with them –being fully present in your time with them – is a valuable lesson that keeps on giving. It means that if you find an opening in your busy afternoon and it’s a beautiful day, take a walk around the block with your child. Sit on the couch together and read – it doesn’t have to be for a set amount of time or a certain amount of pages.

Now here is part that can be tricky for many parents today: the important thing is for you to keep your focus on your child and the single activity at hand. That means turning your phone off and keeping it off, not doing the bills while your child is coloring, and not watching television while your child is reading.

I know that finding time, even just a few minutes, is easier said than done for modern families. Balancing work, school, and extra curricular schedules is one set of challenges; creating mental space for a positive, un-stressful experience is another. As busy adults, we have two modes: fast and stop. If parents can hit stop and find just a few minutes to go slowly with their children during these learning windows, the benefits on learning are well worth it.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.