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60 Ways to Make Your Kid Feel Special Tonight

Photograph by Twenty20

For all the time we spend worrying about the "best" parenting techniques and the "right" school systems, and all the ways we're falling short, we often overlook the simplest truths of parenting:

Our kids want to be heard and seen.

Our kids want to feel valued, worthy and loved.

Our kids want our presence.

And so tonight, before the chaos of bedtime starts rumbling like a storm, and before your wits and patience are completely shot, take a few moments and ask yourself, "How can I help my kids feel loved right now in this moment? How can I help them feel special?"

Because that's the thing about love—it isn't just a word; it's an action. It isn't just heard; it's felt. Love requires participation and effort, not money or skills or even a ton of time. We just have to show up—ask, share, give, play, listen—with some basic thoughtfulness and attention.

So in that spirit, I'd like to offer a few simple, easy suggestions.

ASK:

1. What was the best and worst part of your day?

2. What's your favorite thing about our family?

3. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

4. If you had three wishes, what would you want?

5. What are you proud of?

6. What are you afraid of?

7. How did you help someone today?

8. What are you thankful for?

9. What do you love about yourself?

10. When do you feel loved?

SAY:

1. I missed you today.

2. You're strong and brave.

3. Take your time.

4. I like who you are.

5. You're important to me.

6. Let's play.

7. You make me smile.

8. I'm proud of you.

9. I'm happy you're here.

10. You make my life better.

SHARE:

1. A story from when you were a kid.

2. A time you struggled or made a mistake, and what you learned from it.

3. The story of when they were born.

4. A story about your parents when they were young.

5. Your spirituality and faith.

6. In the mystery of the world.

7. A secret handshake.

8. Their artwork on the refrigerator.

9. A hidden talent.

10. A quiet moment of cuddling.

GIVE:

1. Your full attention, without checking email or scrolling Facebook.

2. A big bear hug.

3. Compassion for the times they struggled today.

4. Credit for their accomplishments, even the smallest ones.

5. A handmade card, just to say you love them.

6. Your smile.

7. Your gratitude, big and small.

8. Affirmation that they are valued, worthy and important.

9. Your best knock-knock jokes.

10. A special pampering bubble bath.

PLAY:

1. 20 Questions.

2. Your favorite board game.

3. The board game that your kid loves, but you … don't.

4. Your kid's favorite video game, even if you don't understand it.

5. Would you rather … ?

6. Charades.

7. A scavenger hunt around the house.

8. DANCE PARTY!

9. Freeze tag.

10. Pretend; join in their imagination.

READ:

1. Your favorite childhood book.

2. In silly voices.

3. Outside on a blanket.

4. Their baby book.

5. Whatever books they want, even the super annoying ones.

LISTEN:

1. To their questions without judgment or criticism.

2. To their problems without trying to fix them.

3. To their favorite song on loop.

4. At their eye level.

5. To their made-up and real-life stories, no matter how long it takes.

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