Whether or not your kid says it, or even knows it, these are the gifts that he really wants.
Your love expressed physically. Even after children outgrow their desire to be cuddled and held, physical touch is still important. Some kids still enjoy hugs and closeness with you, but even if your child doesn’t like a lot of physical touch, there are ways to sneak it in. You may have to do it in playful punches, head rubbing, gentle wrestling or even just tucking him in at night.
My youngest, now 20, is not a touchy feely person. So when she does reach out to me for comfort or love, I drop everything to be sure she gets it!
Always take advantage of those opportunities when your child is asking for it because for some kids that may be rare.
Your love expressed verbally. You can never say “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” or “I believe you” too much! Be creative, perhaps sharing special messages in your child’s desk or lunch bag. Verbal love can also be communicated in your sincere and specific praise.
Your interest. This doesn’t mean prying, it means being there, being available and showing interest by asking, listening, and observing. When they get to be teens, you may feel they are resisting, but don’t back off. Deep down your child really does still want to know that you are interested in her life.
Your restraint (too many questions) I am the queen of questions in my family. Just naturally curious, I guess. But that often drove my kids crazy. Even now, when I’ve asked too many questions, I get “the look” and I know it’s time to stop!
Kids want your interest, but they don’t want to be pestered with too many questions about what is going on in their lives. Find the balance between asking too much and asking too little by asking one or two casual (but targeted) questions at a time.
Your time. Look for chances to spend quality time with each child even when schedules are packed. Mealtimes are great for enjoying time as a family, but a great way to focus on an individual child is attending events at your kid’s school.
That could include chaperoning field trips, coaching a sport, volunteering for class events, or supervising lunch.
Your discipline. No kid will tell you he wants to be disciplined, because he probably thinks he doesn’t. But structure, boundaries, and consequences are necessary for him to feel secure, safe and loved. Consistency is the key. Parents must be on the same page: No “good cop, bad cop.” Consistency also means that core values should not be changed casually or for convenience.
Without rules, boundaries, and limits, your kids are forced to be adults before they are ready.
Your example. Parents are their kids’ first and most important role models. Be the kind of person you want them to become.
Your laughter. I am a big advocate of silliness because when people get silly, they laugh. Walls go down. Bonds are built. Laughter is amazing medicine and the family that laughs and gets silly together, in my opinion, has a better chance of staying strong and close as they grow up.
Your care and protection. Can’t ignore the importance of meeting your child’s basic needs: healthy food, clean clothes, shelter, medical care, education, and protection from harm.
Your stability. Stability comes from family and community. Ideally, a family remains together in a stable household. But when that ideal breaks down, your child’s life must be as little disrupted as possible. Kids and families should also be part of larger units to give them a sense of belonging.
Most important, remember it’s the small things that moms and dads do that mean the most to your children. Surprisingly it may not be that really cool toy or awesome trip to Disney that mean the most to your children. The stuff that costs the least money become priceless lifelong treasures.