Life is busy, life is hectic, your kids, your spouse, your house, your chores, your errands, your job… life is a constant balancing act. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives we need a gentle reminder that our children need an emotional connection to us as parents. Most parents have a deep and unconditional love for their children but can sometimes forget to show that love to their child. Children need lots of love, compassion, affection, understanding and a strong sense of security.
Here are some parenting tips that can help you make a positive impact in your child’s life. This list should serve as a starting place. You might already be doing some of these tips, you might want to try some of the tips that are new to you and it might get you thinking of some creative ways on your own.
- When listening to your child, give them your full attention. Put down the phone, the laptop, the remote, and look at your child, take notice of them, hear their stories, ask questions, show interest, encourage them to talk about themselves, what they like and really listen. Catherine M. Wallace said, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been the big stuff.”
- Keep the promises you make to your child. This sounds simple but it is not always easy to do. Make sure if you are promising something that you can and will fulfill that promise.
- Be there for the things important to them. For example, their sporting events, a school event/activity, a recital, their firsts, etc…
- Meet their friends and show an interest in the people they choose to hang around. Know their schedules, friends, and teachers. Ask specific questions to show interest. “When you had recess today, who did you play with and what did you play?” or “What experiments did Mrs. Smith, the science teacher, do today?”
- Get out the photo albums and their baby books, sit with your child and tell them stories about their beginnings, their firsts, their family, etc… Explain how you are enjoying every stage of their life and look forward to all of their future experiences.
- Use humor in your conversations with your child and laugh and laugh and laugh!!
- Ask for your child’s opinion, listen and follow through. Show them that their feelings and thoughts matter to you. Learning how to make choices is a practical skill as well a time for children to feel important and be heard in the decision making process.
- Surprise your child! Many people, (children and adults) like a surprise. Surprises will make your child feel special. It will say, my parent thought about me and planned something with me in mind. A couple of ideas from small to big… pick up your child from school and get an ice cream cone or wake them up in the morning and they think it is going to be a regular day but take them on adventure instead.
- Celebrate your child. Make a big deal out of the first loose tooth, the scoring basket, the “A” on the report card, the ribbon in the science fair, etc… Go for that special ice cream, cook that special meal or dine in the special restaurant of your child’s choice. Celebrate!
- Apologize when you do something wrong. Parents are not perfect. We make mistakes. You are teaching your child a few powerful lessons when you apologize as well as letting them know that you care enough to say, “I’m sorry”.
- Acknowledge your child’s efforts more then their results. Make sure that your child knows you notice when they are trying hard.
- Always remember tomake a big deal about their birthdays and special days. It’s not about spending a lot of money; it is just about making a big deal to let them know they are important.
- Play with them! Game night can be a lot of fun for the whole family. So take out the Monopoly game and encourage your child to be the banker. Teach them a new game, maybe something that you played as a child, like jacks, or entertain yourselves by acting and play a game of Charades. Find a game that is enjoyable to your child and have fun playing.
- Do something silly! You can act goofy by singing and dancing as you are walking in a store. Another idea is to put on bathing suits, take a bottle of shampoo out in the rain and wash your hair. (Caution: This can be fun as long as it is not thundering and lightning.)
- Get messy with your child: roll around in the grass, blow bubbles and let the bubbles surround you, put your hands in the finger-paint, mush up that clay, clean the bath tub with shaving cream or get a can of silly string and spray until the can runs out.
- Read to your child and continue reading to your child even when they are old enough and already know how to read to themselves. Reading to your child has so many benefits and it is a great opportunity to snuggle.
- Eat dinner together. This is a valuable time to take turns sharing your day. Have each person share the best and worst part of their day.
- Be interactive with your child. Let them experience whatever you want to teach them. For example, involve them in the weekly car wash, the pumping up of their bicycle tire and the cooking of dinner (letting your child crack the eggs, help cut the vegetables, stir the sauce, etc…). Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.”
- Be flexible and know that plans can change. You might want to sit down and write a report for work but your child sees you at the computer and decides that this would be a good time for the two of you to write a creative story. If that report can wait, go with the moment.
- Wear the jewelry your child makes for you, display their artwork proudly in a visible place and always let them know how much you enjoy their creativity.
- Write a quick love note, joke or words of encouragement and place it your child’s lunchbox or backpack to find while they are at school. This gesture will put a smile on both of your faces. This tells your child that you were thinking about them.
- Let your child overhear you complimenting them to someone else about the qualities you genuinely love. Your child wants to make you feel proud of them and hearing you compliment them tells them that they made you proud and they will smile inside and be proud of themselves. But remember to consistently compliment them when you are alone also because that is just as important, maybe even more.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings and make sure they see that their feelings are important to you. John Gottman says, “Recognize your child’s expressions of emotion as opportunities for teaching and intimacy.” Their expression of feelings gives you a teachable moment and a chance for a deeper bond.
- Show appreciation for the things they do. Say, “thank you”.
- Stay with your child when they’re afraid. This is a great time for them to feel secure and safe in your presence.
- Catch your child doing something right and praise them. This lets your child know that you notice their efforts. When they see that you are noticing, they will probably try to repeat the positive behavior.
- Believe in your child and build up their self esteem. Alvin Price said, “Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry”. Build that bucket!
- Keep in mind, to a child love is spelled T-I-M-E.
- Hug them, kiss them, and say, “I love you” every day, all the time, no matter what. Children (and adults) need to feel and hear the love.
- Let yesterday go and start each day fresh. Look at every day as a new opportunity to have a better relationship with your child.
I hope this list will serve as a memory builder, help you get along with your kids better and connect on a deeper level. Barbara Johnson said, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.”
I would like to share a video that I found while writing this blog. This video was taken at Woodson Kindergarten Center in Austin, Minnesota. The Search Institute created this video and I thought it was powerful. Watch and listen to the kindergarten students share their important message. Allow them to help remind you of ways you can make a positive impact in your child’s life.
As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with families to improve and create stronger bonds within the family. My collaborative approach helps strengthen relationships, thus enabling the members in the family to all have their emotional needs met. I have a passion for working with people on communicating and breaking the negative patterns in their relationships. If you feel you would benefit from my services of individual, couples and family counseling, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 954-245-9608.
Your Relationship Expert,