Being a stay-at-home, home-educating mom, I don’t often stop to think about the need to “spend time with my children.” I think I lean more towards thinking about when hubby will be home so I can have a little break! However, when I noticed that the Loveliness Fair this week was on the topic of spending one-on-one time with your children it made me stop and think. “Even though I am home all day, do I really spend enough time with my children??” I know I do spend time with them, almost ALL my time, but how much quality time do I spend? How can I improve on this area of mothering? And, how can I make each of my children feel special since they are growing up in a large family, and so much of what we do is all together?
I ran across a list last week, of some of the various ways to make your children feel special, that I thought I would share:
Ten Ways To Make Your Child Feel Special
By Ann Douglas
1. Help your child to recognize what makes her unique and special. Dr. Robert Currie, professor of psychology at Judson College in Elgin, Illinois, suggests that parents make a point of acknowledging such traits as honesty, courage, insight, and creativity, heaping on praise where praise is due, noting that “It only takes twenty seconds to make someone’s day.”
2. Be generous with your praise but make sure that it is sincere. Rather than speaking in vague generalities when you are praising your child, try to be as specific as you can, suggests Linda Dunlop, chair of the psychology department at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. “When you’re looking at a drawing that your child made, tell him or her exactly what it is about the drawing that appeals to you. Say, ‘I love the colors you used’ or ‘You have a special way of looking at things.'” Children are more likely to accept praise that sounds heart-felt rather than contrived.
3. Talk to your children about things that really matter to them. Jerry Aldridge, an associate professor of early childhood education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, feels that parents can help to make their children feel valued if they take time to really listen to what their children are trying to communicate. “Be genuinely interested in whatever news they care to share with you about whatever might be happening at school or with their friends.”
4. Understand your child’s own unique rhythms and temperaments, and honor them, suggests Brian Nichols, an instructor in the Center for Community Development and Health at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. Instead of trying to change a night owl into an early riser or an introvert into the life of the party, accept and love your child for the person that he or she is just as you expect others to accept and love you the way you are.
5. Give your child as much one-on-one time as you can. If you have more than one child, find ways to spend time alone with each of your children. Make a habit of taking one child with you when you do the grocery shopping so that you can spend some time alone together. Or better yet, hire a babysitter to come to your house one night each week so that you and your partner can take one of your children to a movie or out to dinner by himself or herself. If you rotate kids from week to week, each child will have the chance to experience some glorious two-on-one time with his or her parents. This special time with your child may be complicated to arrange, but it’s definitely worth the effort, says Dunlop. “One-on-one or two-on-one time says you’re special.”
6. Celebrate regularly. Don’t hold out for major achievements or milestones, suggests Nichols. Celebrate all the little things that deserve to be savored on a day-to-day basis�the first goal of the hockey season, a positive comment from a teacher at school, an exceptionally clean bedroom, and so on.
7. Let your child know that you will be there for him or her in both good times and in bad, and that you will do whatever you can to help them get through the rough times. “Believe in your child when he or she is shakiest,” said Clint Kelly, author of How to Win Grins and Influence Little People. “Say, ‘Hey, not to worry. Even Winston Churchill had to repeat sixth grade. Let’s see how we can get you over the hump.'”
8. Laugh with your child. There’s nothing like shared laughter to foster a bond between parent and child, says Lisa DeHaven-Jordan, program director of Raising Today’s Teens, a non-profit parenting hotline. “Sharing an inside joke reminds your child that he or she has a very special place in your heart.”
9. Share something of yourself with your child. Tell him or her about the time you failed your math test, had a fight with your best friend, or lost your dog. Most important of all, be the first to admit it if you’ve made a mistake, particularly if that mistake affects your child, suggests parenting consultant Diane Pipher Wolf. “In our family, if we’ve blown it when dealing with a particular child, we simply shout, ‘Erase’ and start over!”
10. Above all, remember that making your child feel special is one of your most important tasks as a parent, says Anita Landau Hurtig, a pediatric psychologist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “No one can build a child’s self-esteem the way a parent can.”
I love how she pointed out that “It only takes twenty seconds to make someone’s day.” It is so true… I know how easy it is for someone to make my day, but how often do I make a point to do that for my children?! Reading through this list, I see a few areas that I definitely need to work on.
That said, I am really looking forward to reading all the posts on this topic! If your interested, hop on over to Marianne’s Blog, Learning2Love, for the links, and get ready to be inspired to spend some Simply Lovely One-on-One time with your children!