Parenting experts agree that kids need to feel love and affection to grow up with a healthy sense of self. In fact some studies show that children who feel love and affection have larger hippocampus area in the brain, resulting in better learning, memory and stress responses. We are becoming more and more aware through different fields of science at understanding exactly how importing the parenting role is for developing children. However we live hectic and often stressed filled lives, how do we make sure in the midst of the chaos we are still making sure our children feel love? What can we do to make sure they know they are unique and special?
Often much of what our children think is awesome is not the things we, adults, would think. As adults we often tell ourselves it has to be something big to make a lasting memory, like a trip to Disney World or something similar. However this is not always true. There are many day-to-day moments that can show ours kids they are special and they are loved. However parenting has to be intentional, and we have to stop and think about it sometimes. However it is often easy to build in habits, traditions and family activities.
Here is an easy to-do list of things that help our kids feel special, and in many times without even meaning to we have made lasting memories they have brought up years later.
- One-on One time- We implemented this a few years back where a parent would take one child out and just spend one-on-one time with that child. Do what the child wants (maybe ice cream, maybe fishing) we made it part of our regular schedule. When I ask my kids what makes them feel special they all answered (well the ones who can answer) that this was number one for them.
- Project making- Making this a theme, isn’t always easy in todays busy times and schedules. However it is one kids absolutely love! We started simple projects we could sit down and do with the kids, maybe a sewing project, craft, building a robot, a model rocket or some other cool DIY idea we found on Pinterest.
- Get active– running, biking, hiking or something else where you get out and be active with the kids. Our kids love this we often load up bikes and head to a local park with trails or we all put on running shoes and we do a few laps around the homestead. In fact we did this last weekend and it was the 4-year-old’s idea.
- Game time– Board games have become a thing of the past, but it is actually awesome family together time. We play all sorts of board games, with a big bowl of popcorn and everyone has a great time. That’s not where that stops we even have family XBOX time (or whatever game player). We play Disney infinity and take turns or even fitness challenge games and have a mock tournament. The kids have a blast, and it’s great for us parents too.
- Take trips- Maybe budgets are tight and a big vacation is out of the question. Take day trips! This for us is our mini much cheaper version of a vacation. We try to do this at the beginning of the school year or just before school starts and again at the end of the school year to mark the end of our homeschool year. We have found all sorts of hidden gems within an hour or two drive from us. Cool places to see, or petting zoos, interesting restaurants. Magic is everywhere if you just look.
- Read together- Even when kids get older they still enjoy reading a story together. I try to make sure reading is something engaging to the older kids. If you follow us on Instagram (wink, wink) I am currently reading The Indian in the Cupboard. It’s perfect for my 4th and 1st grader, even the 4-year-old seems pretty interested, and well the little guy is learning to be quiet. Books, much like movies, take you away into the story, however with a book you all travel together to the adventures, that’s wonderful. Kids love it.
- Involve them- They all have things they like to help with, help in the kitchen, or in the yard or the garden, gathering eggs etc. Yes it is usually slower, messier and eggs get broke (sometimes). However they love to help, they feel special if they get to stand on a chair and flip tortillas on the stove, or if they go with dad and gather eggs from the chicken coop, or if dad lets them sit on his lap and “drive” (just on the homestead) to the back pasture to fix a fence. No matter what the task involve them in a fun way, they will feel super special.
- Tell them how awesome they are- As anyone has had a parent who was very negative on their confidence knows, having parents who fill you with positivity and affirmative words is very important. I try very hard to say things like “what a great help”, “you are such a funny kid”, “you make me laugh”, “you are the coolest kid I know”, we high-five over everything, my 4-year-old likes to high foot (we made it up you just kick your feet together), but it’s fun and special to them. So if the oldest takes the trash out I say “awesome job bud” and we high-five. Even in everyday moments I want them to know they are special and talented and good at things and never to feel that they are not good enough.
- Celebrate the small things- Life is simply to short to not celebrate things. Celebrate the A on the spelling test, celebrate bike riding without training wheels, celebrate the lost tooth, celebrate the new puppy, celebrate each grade, heck celebrate that it’s Friday! Your kids may not remember what you were always celebrating but they will remember that they always felt special.
- Teach kids to build each other up too- It’s important for kids to feel positive and affirmed through relationships from adults, but it’s important that they also feel that from siblings. We like to encourage the kids to encourage each other (you should see the room all cheer on little man as he was learning to walk), they are also really great at encouraging each other’s art work and hand-made things.
You know the old thing about sowing and reaping, I think it’s actually true about most things. That’s also how parenting and kids are. We have to be intentional about sowing good stuff in. Sowing does not have to mean expensive, in fact it usually means effort not money. Kids are young and impressionable. What we put into them at young ages, will stick, like it or not. It is so very important to plant a positive self-image and encourage everything that builds a good self-esteem.
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children -Charles Swindoll
As humans we only get so much time. We never really know for sure how many trips around the sun we get. And the parenting time is even less. We only have so many nights to tuck them into bed, to put ninja turtle band-aids not their knees and to help them learn this thing called life. Life is already to short, but it’s to short to take it for granted. With only this one life and X number of days to be an influential person to my children. I choose that these days I have I must be planting, nurturing, watering and fertilizing everything I can in my kids. My goal is for my kids to be strong and confident in who they were born to be. I want them to know they are unique, talented, loved and special ♡♡♡
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