Go on, make your kid’s day!
No question about it, our kids are our #1 priority on any given day. But do they know that for certain. Like, 100 per cent?
Life gets busy and I know I’m guilty of saying things like “not now” or “we’ll do it later” more often than not. I have to regularly remind myself how important it is to drop everything and be present with my kids. Nothing else matters more than making them feel loved and appreciated in any given moment.
That’s not to say that I want my teens to receive a message that nothing else is important in my life. Far from it – I’m raising them on the understanding that my own life is just as important as theirs. However, I never want them to feel sidelined or dismissed, no matter what I’ve got going on.
If you also find yourself putting things before the kids too regularly, here’s how to show up, be present and really make your kid’s day.
1. Listen, just listen
One of the most powerful things we can do for our kids is to simply listen to them. When they come home from school or from hanging out with friends, let’s make the time to ask them how their day was and really focus on what they have to say. Their feelings and thoughts about their day are valuable, so let’s treat them as the precious insights that they are.
2. Keep the compliments coming
Everyone loves to be told they’re doing a good job. So let’s notice when the kids do something well and give them a genuine compliment. This could be praising them for getting a good grade on a test or for being a good friend to someone. Even something as simple as noticing when they do something unexpected at home, like setting the table ahead of time, or helping their sibling with their homework. Try to pick up on as many opportunities to notice and compliment as you can.
3. Cook their favourite meal
Food is definitely the way to a growing kid’s heart. It’s also great to bring the family together around something that they love. Cooking their favorite meal also shows them that you care about their likes and dislikes. If you think they’d be up for it, inviting them to cook the meal together is another way to give them your time and full focus.
4. Help them with their homework
Homework can be a major source of stress for kids, so offering to help them with it can be a huge relief. Even if you’re not an expert in the subject, just being there to offer support and encouragement can make a big difference. Added bonus: you know the homework is getting done.
5. Do something fun together
Whether it’s playing a board game, going for a walk, or watching a movie, finding an activity that you can enjoy together can be a great way to bond with your kid. It might take the teens a bit of persuading to come out of their room and hang out with you, but even the surliest teen will eventually thaw. After all, they don’t really loathe us as much as they think they do…
6. Give them their space
Sometimes the best way to make our kid’s day is to leave them be. Uninterrupted time to do whatever they please is a true gift. This is time just for them and they should be given free rein to do whatever they want with it – even if that means they spend a few hours buried in their phones.
7. Write it down
A heartfelt note goes long way in making someone feel loved and appreciated and our kids are no different. So let’s take the time to write a special note, telling them how much we care about them and how proud we are of them. It’s even nicer if the note is given on a random day, rather than a birthday (although birthday notes are good too!).
8. Surprise them
Planning something special for our kids is a great way to show them how much we care. Greeting them with a favourite snack; letting them have a sleepover on a school night; taking a visit to their happy place (that would be the beach for us); going out for breakfast before school… you know the things that will make your kid’s day.
9. Show interest in their interests
Kids can be remarkably attached to the things they are interested in. They give it everything they’ve got (until the next interest takes hold, of course). One way to really make your kid’s day is to simply take the time to ask them about these hobbies and show genuine interest in what they’re doing. Ask them to explain how something works, or how they came up with an idea. Showing support for the things they care about is so important to them.
10. Just be there for them
Sometimes a reminder that they are the most important thing in our lives is all it takes to reset our relationship with our kids. Let them know that you’re always available to talk or to offer support, no matter what they’re going through. That way they know they’re not alone and they can always trust that we’ll be there for them. Always.