We’ve asked our friends on what their happiest memories were as kids, and they’ve shared anecdotes of their parents helping them with their school projects, teaching them how to ride a bicycle, or just being there and cheering them on during sports events.
In short, it doesn’t really take much to make your kids feel appreciated but some may still feel at a loss on how to express their love. Here are 15 simple things you can do to show how much you care. Actions do speak louder than words, and these gestures will be remembered long after they’ve grown up. Hopefully, they will be doing the same thing when they have families of their own.
- Schedule a smartphone-free time daily
Give your kids your undivided attention by keeping gadgets on silent mode when they come home from school or when you’re sharing a meal. Ask them about their day; they would definitely have a lot of interesting stories to share. Savour these moments without being distracted by the constant hum of your smartphone – texts and emails can wait until later. And on that note…
- Turn off the TV during mealtimes
Don’t let cartoons or ads divert everyone’s attention away from talking to each other. Studies have shown that families who eat meals together uninterrupted and unrushed benefit from stronger family bonds. This gives younger children a sense of security and a feeling of belonging. For older kids, this a great time to catch up with their parents.
- Create your own bedtime rituals
Establish fun routines with your kids such as singing in the shower, choosing pajamas they’d like to sleep in, or reading a bedtime story before they drift off to dreamland. These are moments they would treasure for a lifetime.
- Be generous with hugs and kisses
Kids bask in the warmth and affection you show them. A kiss or a hug each day boosts their self-esteem and helps them easily adjust to different social situations. Teenagers who might be embarrassed with physical displays of affection will appreciate words of support and encouragement.
- Regularly go on “dates” with each child
Bond with each child on a one-on-one basis. Spend an afternoon doing something they’re particularly fond of, whether it’s playing basketball, baking, watching a movie, or painting. Get to know each personality better. Having their mum or dad’s attention when their other siblings are not around makes them feel extra loved and special.
- Discipline with love
A more loving alternative to physical forms of discipline is to patiently explain to your child why you don’t approve of a certain behaviour and to remind them that you will always be there for guidance and support. Love is not something that could be given when children do well and withheld when they misbehave; it has to be unconditionally there.
- Surprise them with random, affectionate messages delivered unexpectedly
It could be a simple “I’m proud of you” text in the middle of the day, a sticky note inside their lunch box reminding them to finish everything you’ve prepared, or a card with an inspirational quote under their pillow. Just because you thought of them and just because you do care.
- Make eye contact
Looking straight into their eyes while communicating with your kids conveys your sincerity and that they’ve got your attention. In doing so, you are also teaching them an important social skill that will come in handy as they grow older.
Show your kids you’re happy to have them in your life by greeting them with a smile. This puts them at ease and reaffirms in their minds that their presence is very much welcome and is not considered a nuisance.
- Practice what you preach
Let your kids know that you want them to be the best individuals that that they can be by setting a good example. From fastening your seatbelt, waiting patiently in line, to being polite to everyone regardless of race, class, or gender, be a parent your kids can look up to and be proud of.
- Empower them
Make your children feel that they’re an important part of the family by involving them in the decision making process, whether it’s choosing the next vacation destination, what to watch in the cinemas, or what should be prepared for dinner. It also teaches them to voice out their opinions and collaborate with others.
- Just have fun
Ikea in Spain came out with a Christmas experiment last year, asking children to write a wish list addressed to their parents. And it turns out that all they really wanted was not to have new toys, but to spend more time playing and laughing with their super busy moms and dads. So go on, head down to the park or play pretend at home and create new memories.
- Be involved
Your children might be bullied in school or might be having a difficult time interacting with their teachers and classmates without you noticing. Show that you care by finding out the reason behind their unusual behaviour and by helping them handle the situation skillfully, like teaching them how to react when bullied.
- Appreciate their creativity
Save all the notes, funny drawings, birthday cards, and Christmas cards your kids have lovingly prepared for you. Keep them in a special folder or display a few on your work desk. This will encourage their imagination, too.
- Keep communication lines open, and listen
When your kids have had an exciting play date with friends or a school field trip, allow them to tell you how their day went, down to the last detail, and resist the urge interrupt. Apart from making them feel important, this also reminds them that they can tell you anything and everything, establishing a relationship based on honesty and trust.
How do you show your love to your kids? Add to the list by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below!