My younger son was having a particularly emotional night. There were lots of tears and he had his head buried in his pillow. I grabbed his stuffed frog, lowered my voice (because, you know, frogs have deep voices), and started talking to him as “Mr. Ribbit.” He immediately looked up, tried to stifle his smile, and eventually started cracking up. The things kids love often surprise me and this was no exception.
Now, both of my sons, aged eight and nine, request that I give their buddies voices and personalities. I’m learning that it really doesn’t take a whole lot to make them feel seen, heard, and loved. We tend to think the big lavish shows of affection or attention are necessary, but there are so many simple things kids love that take very little effort from us. Here are 35. Pick a few and start today!
We tend to think the big lavish shows of affection or attention are necessary, but there are so many simple things kids love that take very little effort from us.
Kids love when you…
1. Have “our song,” just like you do with your husband.
2. Wear the jewelry they made you, even if it’s made from raw noodles or seashells.
3. Supervise while they clean their rooms. Sometimes kids don’t mind picking up; they just want company.
4. Tell them you’re happy to see them and give them a hug when they walk in the door.
5. Wake up early and go get donuts in your pajamas.
7. Put your phone away when you talk with them. This printable page of 10 Cell Phone Rules for Mom can help you keep a healthy relationship with your cell.
8. Make eye contact when they talk to you.
9. Ask them to repeat something they said that was funny or insightful.
10. Have a strange holiday tradition. Anyone can eat egg casserole on Christmas morning. My family eats tacos and my kids love it!
11. Let them do the thing you usually make them stop doing, e.g., jumping in the puddle, digging in the dirt, eating a hotdog from the center out.
12. Let them pick out their own outfit. Be sure to say something nice about it!
13. Listen when they are venting about something. When you think they’re done, say, “Then what happened?” or “How did that feel?”
14. Show them pictures or videos of themselves and talk about the memory.
15. Let them tickle you.
16. Send a note in their lunchbox (even to middle and high school kids). We have a ton of fun lunchbox notes, like this cute one—and they’re all free to print!
17. Ask about their friendships.
18. Let them have friends over.
19. Frame some of their artwork.
20. Let them rearrange their rooms.
21. Thank them when they do something without being asked.
22. Show up at their games or performances, even if they say it’s no big deal if you miss them.
23. Show interest in what they love. For bigger kids: “Did you hear about the ___ game?” or “That band you like is coming in concert. Maybe we can go?”
24. Ask for a controller and then sit and play a video game together.
26. Pray with them. This printable Kids’ Praises for God page will look great framed next to their beds!
27. Have designated dinner nights—Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday… It makes meal planning easy for you and they love tradition and family rituals.
28. Help them build a fort and then let them sleep in it.
29. Text them to say hi and I love you.
30. Put their names on things like their pillows, journals, bedroom doors… It gives them a sense of belonging.
31. Let them teach you something.
32. Watch their choice of TV shows.
33. Write notes back and forth to each other. Our From Me to You Journal is perfect for that! There’s one for moms and sons and another for moms and daughters.
34. Talk positively about them to other adults so they can hear.
35. Go out for dessert one-on-one.
What are some simple things kids love that you try to do often in your family?