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Even 10 minutes of uninterrupted quality time or a single act done intentionally can make a child feel special, seen, and loved. This list goes to show that even the busiest parent can find the time to communicate “I love you” in small, special ways to their kids.

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Life can swirl around preschoolers like a windstorm. Between playdates, preschool, and daycare, they may feel like the adults in their life don’t really see them. If you want to make your kid feel special, loved, and appreciated, try and incorporate these five special moments into their everyday lives.

Put Your Phone Down 

It’s so simple, but it means so much! Studies have shown that children are very aware of when their parents are paying attention to their phones instead of them. They want to be the thing you’re looking at. So put your phone down when you’re with them. Better yet, put it in the other room. If you’re expecting an important phone call or message, turn the ringer up and explain to your child you may have to step away for a moment. But otherwise, your attention is on them. 

Speak Their “Love Language” 

Is your child a hugger? Do they love giving and receiving gifts? Are they constantly telling you how much they love you? Identify how they best give and receive love, and show them affection in an individualized way. This can be particularly helpful if you have multiple children. Specializing how you say “I love you” to each one shows them that you’re paying attention and aren’t mechanically doling out half-hearted praise.

Make Special Time Just for Them

It could be as official as “National <Insert Child’s Name> Day” or designating Saturday mornings as “go get doughnuts with Dad” day. Again, this is particularly helpful if you have multiple children. Each one will know they get your undivided attention at a specific time. That gives them the chance to ask you questions or have conversations they may not want to have with everyone else around.

Don’t forget to involve your child in deciding how you spend time together. (For example, if they don’t like being outside, then don’t go for a walk.) This little investment could be the expression of love your child remembers and appreciates decades from now. 

Take Interest in Their Interests

It’s easy to forget that your kids are just tiny people — everyone feels special when someone is interested in the things they like. And we know … it’s hard to listen to your little one talk about that one episode of Paw Patrol for the millionth time. But showing interest, asking questions, and learning more about the things they love tells them that they are interesting to you and worth your time. Plus, being interested in the same things means they come running to you the next time something exciting happens. And what parent doesn’t love that?!? 

Provide Genuine Praise

Even if you think you are adequately praising your children, take a step back and ask the question, “What am I praising them for?” If it’s everything they do, praising them actually has the opposite effect. If everything they do is special, then nothing they do is special. Dr. Monica Foley reminds parents that the quality of their praise is more important than the quantity. She suggests praising them for the things they do that are out of the ordinary or when they are working hard to achieve a goal. In other words, their effort is more important than the outcome.

None of these suggestions have to take up an entire day. Even 10 minutes of uninterrupted quality time or a single act done intentionally can make a child feel special, seen, and loved. This list goes to show that even the busiest parent can find the time to communicate “I love you” in small, special ways to their kids. 

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Steven Wang

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