(CMR) Children want to feel loved and to know that their parents are there for them all the time. Parents also want them to know they are special. Helping your child feel loved and special can mold his identity and help to establish a healthy sense of self-worth and self-esteem in the future.
Kids who don't feel that special attachment with their parents may act out later in life, doing harmful things to get their parents' attention. Here are some ways parents.com writer Devan McGuinness suggests parents can make their kids feel special:
Make eye contact. We may believe we can listen to what our kid is saying while we dash off a work e-mail, but in reality, dividing your attention can make your child feel like you're placing her second. So the next time she wants to talk to you, put down what you're doing and give your child your full eye contact and complete attention. Ask a question or two that shows you're truly listening and are present. If you can't drop what you're doing at that moment, say so. Ask your child to give you a moment to wrap up your task, then follow up.
Spend some uninterrupted time together every day. You don't need to carve out large chunks of time; even 10 minutes a day is okay. Let your child decide what you do together and, if possible, turn the phone off or—better yet—leave it in another room, so you're not tempted to check your Twitter feed.
Ask caring questions. Go beyond the generic “How was school?” conversation and instead ask your kids pointed questions that show you're invested in what's going on in their lives, Dr. Laura Kauffman says. For example, ask them about their spelling test or what happened on their favorite TV show.
Create meaningful traditions. No need to construct anything elaborate; this is really about spending quality, one-on-one time together and creating lasting memories. Get in the kitchen with your child and make a pancake breakfast for the family on Sundays. Set a monthly date where you treat your kid to a favorite treat and an hour at the playground. Invite your child to accompany you to your standing salon appointment, and stay for mani-pedis afterward. Such simple traditions can go a long way toward building that special parent-child connection.
Be affectionate. A kiss on the cheek, a bear hug before bedtime—showing your affection makes kids feel loved. Not a “hugging” family? Create your special handshake or develop a fun code word with each kid.
Love what they love. Sure, you're probably not as excited about the newest collection of Shopkins as they are, but loving what your kids love is a great way to show they're important to you. Listen with enthusiasm as they explain the inner workings of their Lego castle, and make yourself available to help foster their hobby. Dr. Kauffman says sharing in your children's passions not only helps them feel supported it also allows them to “feel they are important enough to dedicate your valuable time to them.”