Of all the things we need and want to teach our children, the best gift we can give is the security that comes with knowing they are truly loved, appreciated and understood.
Life is busy and childhood is short, so take every opportunity to let your little one know how much you care.
• Leave little notes for her to find. A quick message to let her know that you are thinking of her can be left on her pillow, packed in her lunch bag or stuck to the bathroom mirror.
• Tell him a story. Talk about the day he was born, or a special time you spent together. Share something you remember from when you were his age.
• Put on a favourite song and dance together.
• Do something out of the ordinary. Take a picnic lunch to the park, or set up a scavenger hunt in the house or yard.
• Take time to really listen to your child. Put aside all your work and worries and hear what she has to say. You don’t have to offer opinions or fix problems, just give her your full attention.
• Read to your child every day.
• Include your child in your daily activities. Give him specific tasks to do as you prepare meals, clean the house or grocery shop.
• Say thank you when your child has done something helpful or kind.
• Be silly sometimes. Do funny things to make each other laugh.
• End each day with some quiet one-on-one time.
• Play together, letting her decide what and how to play.
• Say "I love you" every day.
Making a child feel special not only boosts his self-esteem, but it also provides a nice reminder to parents about what is truly important.
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the challenges and responsibilities of parenting. Slowing down and simply spending quality time with your child is one of the great joys of being a parent.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 9, 2014