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The relationship we share with our kids is so important. We often think about the major choices and decisions we make as the most defining moments when in reality, the defining moments are in the small every day things we do for our kids.

Looking back at even my childhood, I can see that the small, sweet moments I shared with my mother meant far more to me than everything else. As a parent now, I have thought a lot about those small efforts my mother made, and have strived to show up and show out in those small moments for my little ones. If you are like me and want to be the best parent you can be, I implore you to carry out these tasks. None of them require a ton of money or even a ton of time.

1. Be present.

In the modern world, it has become so acceptable to stay tuned in to social media, our smartphones, and what is going on in the modern world, that many of us are constantly distracted. If you take one look around you when you go out to eat, a really scary picture manifests: everyone is glued to their phones, and for parents, this is especially scary to me. Kids need your attention, your focus, and your presence. Not only for their development but also for their emotional well-being. So, stow away the electronics and make quality time a priority.

2. Model the best behavior.

You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to make sure that your behaviors are consistent with what you are expecting from your child. For example, if you tell them to pick up after themselves, but here you are, leaving things scattered about- you aren’t practicing what you preach. And ultimately, your kids are going to do as they see, not as you say.

3. Be empathetic.

When your child is upset and beginning to act out it’s easy to get frustrated and lose your cool. However, it’s much better to slow down, take a deep breath and pay attention to why they are acting the way that they are. Be empathetic. I am not saying to let your child do whatever they want- kids need limits. But as their parent, you need to understand where they are coming from.

4. Create fun and funny moments.

Looking back at my childhood, some of the best moments were moments of laughter and fun with my mom. Little trips to the drive-in in the middle of the night, goofy dances with Hoola hoops, and inside jokes only my mom and sister would understand are the things that stick out most in my mind. Be sure to make real memories with your family.

5. Discipline to teach, not to punish.

We often use the words ‘discipline’ and ‘punish’ interchangeably, but they are not the same. To discipline is to teach or instill value while punishing is just that. While punishment might be a form of discipline, it is not the most effective. The most effective comes through teaching your child the right and wrong way to do things.

6. Choose your words carefully.

It’s easy to get caught up in your emotions and just let them rule over you. However, as a parent, you need to be more calculated than that. We all make mistakes, but strive to use words that empower not words that belittle.

7. Make bedtime a precious moment.

Routines and rituals will often be remembered because they become a part of who we are. Make sure to develop these routines with your kids. Bedtime is especially important because good rest is essential to your child’s growth and development. So, make bedtime a moment they can unwind, snuggle in, and share a precious moment with you.

8. Be affectionate.

For some, this may come naturally. Especially those who grew up in affectionate families. But, if you struggle with this- it is important to seek out help. Your kids need little hugs, cuddles, and to be held. They need to feel secure and loved. It’s one of the most essential needs they have, outside of food, sunshine, and water.