8 things that mean the world to your child
These simple ideas will help foster a heart-to-heart connection and cost little more than your time.
1. HUGS AND KISSES
Affection and love are so important for a child’s emotional and spiritual development. We love the ‘no hurry hug’ – because we’re often so busy that even our hugs get rushed! Try wrapping your child up in your arms and only letting go when they are ready to move on.
Words of affirmation go a long way to building a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Give your children genuine and specific praise for the great job they have done on something, and let them know how proud you are. Even if they haven’t had a ‘win’, praise them for their effort and tell them that you noticed how hard they tried. There are many ways to demonstrate praise, from cheering your kids on in sports to drawing a picture (when they can’t read) with hearts and smiley faces. OHbaby! Managing Director Angela Pedersen remembers that whenever her dad dropped her off at school he would say “Be good, have fun and learn as much as you can, because you’re getting better and better every day”. Angela now says that phrase to her kids every day before school, and laughs that it has now become a bit of fun. “The kids repeat it back to me, and are getting a little sick of it, but I keep saying it anyway, just like Dad did, because in the end it meant a lot!”
Kids really want to be listened to. One of the most significant gifts we can give our children is simply to listen to them. When they’re upset, it can really help them calm down and feel understood. Use reflective listening – basically repeating back to your child what they have said, and offer your love and gentle guidance. By listening to them, you’ll get to know their personalities and more deeply understand their needs. When we listen to our kids, we gain important insights that, in turn, help us support them and foster their interests. You’ll know what your kids are most passionate about because that will be what they talk about most!
4. SURPRISE THEM WITH A GIFT, JUST BECAUSE
We don’t mean the latest toy given as a reward, but a simple gesture that’s a symbol of love. You could put a note in their lunchbox, draw a special picture and leave it on their pillow, cook their favourite meal, or make a piece of art for their wall.
5. SERVE THEM
‘Acts of service’ are one of the five love languages – different ways of giving and receiving love. As parents, we already serve our kids a lot, but this is more about the emotional value of meeting physical needs, such as looking after your child when they’re sick, or sad, or have hurt themselves. This may already be instinctive, but when you understand that an act of service can demonstrate genuine, unconditional love, you may find that nursing a fever, patching up a scraped knee or making hot chocolate to soothe a frayed temper is much more meaningful.
6. GIVE YOUR CHILD TIME
What really makes your child feel loved is your undivided (screen-free!) attention. It helps with their emotional and physical development, it’s free, it’s special and it’s a great way to work out how your little one ticks. Read a book together, cook something together, ask open-ended questions about your child’s day or share a bowl of chips and a chat.
7. GIVE YOUR CHILD TIME
Often children misbehave in an attempt to get more time with mummy and/or daddy. It can get to the point where negative attention is better than no attention, so watch out for the signs that you need to book in some one-on-one time … you’ll never regret it.
8. GIVE YOUR CHILD TIME
There’s a reason we’ve said this three times, and we’re confident you already know why! Time spent with your child is vital for laying the foundations for a thriving and healthy relationship with them. Quality time spent with you is like ‘money’ in their emotional bank, and your investment of time will equip them emotionally for whatever life has to throw at them. It needn’t cost cash, just your attention and your focus. We know it feels like there’s never enough time to do everything a parent ‘needs’ to do, but perhaps our priorities could shift and some of the ‘important’ tasks could wait. What will pay the biggest dividends in the long-term is hanging out with our kids. Which, conveniently, is actually way more fun!
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 45 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW