- Thank them—You can thank them for the most menial of tasks and their eyes will light up. You like to be appreciated and so do they. They will then begin to learn how to be polite and how to respect and appreciate others.
- Listen to them—It is so easy to just “Mmmm Hmmmm” through a conversation with my 4-year old. But he’s not stupid. It hurts when others do it to me, and it hurts him when I do it too. Nod at appropriate moments, look at them when they are speaking, and don’t interrupt. They will feel important when you take this time out for them.
- Apologize when deserved—Sometimes we screw up. We aren’t perfect and shouldn’t pretend to be. When we are in the wrong to our children, we should have the humility to admit it to them and ask for their forgiveness. They will respect you even more.
- Tell them you love them—You cannot do this too much. Even when they grow to be teenagers and they act like they don’t want to hear it, there is security in knowing their parents love them.
- Support their interests—As long as their interests are healthy, they don’t have to be the same as yours. You may not know the rules of martial arts sparring, but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn to be a good cheerleader for them. If they love plants, animals, and dinosaurs, take them to the natural science museum even if you’d rather gouge your own eyes out. They can enjoy their hobbies and you will love to see them so enthralled. And you might learn a new thing or two yourself.
- Hug them…all the time—Yes, tell them you love them all the time, but don’t be afraid to physically express it too. There is something comforting and reassuring about the human touch. Study after study has shown evidence the children thrive when exposed to the human touch rather than just words.
- Play with them—I know you are tired at the end of the day, but make memories with them. No, you don’t have to be their best friend, but you can be their playmate sometimes. They will remember it and you just might have some fun yourself!
- Be a good role model—Your words can only carry so far. And they will get you nowhere if your actions are in opposition to those words. You can teach your child how to achieve their goals by showing them how you achieve yours. Be the person you want them to be. They love you more than they will ever let on, and want to make you proud.
Photo credit: brownjeans