By Lisa Luciano, a lifelong educator and mother of eleven. Lisa earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Wheaton College.
Parenting is one of the toughest, best jobs in the world. Once you have your toddler figured out, suddenly he’s a teenager and the game has changed. There are many important things you do for your child regularly, so keep up the great work. Allow the following list to provide some additional inspiration!
It’s hard to listen to your child’s lengthy dream when you are busy trying to get the day started. However, listening is one of the most important things you can do for your child, and it’s one of the biggest complaints children have about their parents. Try to find a time to listen without comment or judging. Developing the skill of listening to your loved ones is more valuable than you can imagine.
Give Eye Contact
Giving your child eye contact is more crucial than ever in the modern world of AirPods, gaming, and mobile phones. Parent-child eye contact, starting at a young age sends a variety of positive messages to your child and serves as a great example for your child to do the same.
Provide Meaningful Work
Assign regular tasks to your child, starting when your child is young. Meaningful work that is appropriate for a child’s age and ability can help:
● Develop positive habits
● Give a sense of belonging
● Build responsibility
● Provide the satisfaction of a job well done
Playing an indoor or outdoor game with your child can help them in a variety of ways. It builds the parent-child bond and it can set an example of sportsmanship, kindness, and fair play. Quality playtime with your child is a worthwhile investment.
Offer Encouraging Words
Why is it so much easier to find fault with children than to praise them? We easily notice the mud on the floor and the unmade bed, but it’s important to catch your child in the act of being good, too. Try to offer words of genuine praise regularly for something positive you see in your child’s life. Good choices, improved work habits, kindness, and loyalty to friends are all worth encouraging. Don’t be stingy with sincere encouragement and try to feed it to them every day, if possible.
Ask Them An Open-Ended Question
To get your child talking, try asking an open-ended question — a question that must be answered thoughtfully or creatively. Some examples of open-ended questions include:
● Tell me an interesting fact you learned recently that I don’t know.
● How would you describe yourself in five words or less?
● Tell me about the time you laughed the hardest.
● Describe your perfect meal.
When your child is young, it’s easy to find time to read picture books together. When kids get older, it’s more difficult. Listening to audiobooks is a great way to complete a book together and makes a car ride more enjoyable. My children and I have loved well-narrated books such as The Mysterious Benedict Society, A to Z Mysteries, Alex Rider Series, The Boxcar Children, and more.
Teach Them Something
Don’t let professional educators have all the fun of teaching your children. Yes, it takes patience. It also works best if you do not expect perfection and allow extra time to complete the task. Consider teaching your child a new skill on a regular basis. Teach what you know well, such as gardening, plumbing, lawn care, making soup, dribbling a basketball, creating art, or cleaning windows.
Don’t Forget Touch
The science of touch has been well researched; scientists have confirmed that meaningful parent-child touch is crucial from birth to adulthood. Touch boosts cortisol, supports healthy growth, and even helps fight disease. So, reach out and give a hug or a high five to your child today!
Speak Their Love Language
Everyone has a unique love language. Some children love words of praise, while others are “huggers.” Ask your child about her love language. Saying the words “I love you” is important, and you can express it in a variety of different ways.
Sometimes it helps to have a little inspiration. Whatever you do, don’t let this be a checklist to make you feel more parental guilt, but if you ever feel stuck or distant from your child, give one of these a try!