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We as parents have so much influence over our kids and their well-being. Typically, when we think of how we influence our kids, we tend to think big, but the thing is- it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference.

Think about it: what behaviors of your parents made or broke you growing up? I am going to bet that it was in the small repeated behaviors or the habitual lack of certain behaviors. For example, my mom always made family meals a big deal. It was a time in which we sat down and ate a meal together. And the ritual was comforting, to say the least. While our kids likely will remember the big things, too-the small, everyday things you do are what will always be with them. Make sure that’s a good thing.

1. Put the gadgets away.

It’s okay to look at your phone from time to time or use your computer for work. Even movie time here and there can be great. However, make sure that gadgets aren’t high jacking your attention and taking you away from your kids. Small kids need interaction with their parents, they need to see your face, and they need you to acknowledge them. So, stow away the phone until bed unless you are taking an important call.

2. Make bedtime a happy time.

Instead of chaos being the predominant energy surrounding bedtime, make bedtime a time of solace. Read them a book. Tuck them in. Say nice things to them and pray. If you don’t have a bedtime routine, it might take a few days to get there- but begin putting them to bed at the same time. Follow the same routine each day, and it will make things much easier. Not only that, but kids need good rest-so when you make bedtime a welcoming experience, they are going to want to lie down.

3. Be affectionate.

Show your kids physical affection. Give them hugs, snuggles, kisses, and other love. If physical affection does not come naturally to you, you shouldn’t allow this discomfort to stop you from loving on your kids. Take time each day to show them, love.

4. Say, ‘I love you.’

You might assume your kids know, but even if they do, they need to hear it. Make sure that you say it often. Say it before bed, say it when they wake up, and say it before they go to school.

5. Be empathetic.

Your kids need you to be in their corner. Instead of always criticizing them, remember they are just tiny humans with a heart and souls. They need your empathy and understanding far more than they need you to be ‘tough’ with them.

6. Share laughter.

Make sure to have lots of laughable moments. Share jokes, play games, and tell stories. These moments will be the ones your kids remember more than anything.

7. Build them up.

A lot of us grew up with parents who had been belittled growing up, and who, in turn, belittled us. Change the game and build your kids up. Let them know how much potential they have. Support them to reach for their goals, and when you see them doing good- acknowledge it.

8. Spend quality time with them.

It might seem like common sense, but sometimes, life can get chaotic, but it should never be so chaotic that you don’t spend time with your kids. They will grow up before you know it- and you will never regret setting aside quality time for them.