You always hear about doing random acts of kindness for strangers. But sometimes those little acts can have a big impact on our own kids too. There are lots of ways you can make time for kids that really won’t cost you much in terms of effort, but will go a long way in your little one’s day. In the spirit of positive parenting, here are 25 little gestures that make kids feel really important.
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1. Host a Yes Day. Ice cream for dinner? Yes! An impromptu trip to the park? Sure! Imagine the joy your kids will feel when you say “yes” to everything! Inspired by the Yes Day book, this post has all the details you need to say “yes” all day long.
2. Color together. Grab a blank stack of paper, a pack of crayons and your imagination and start drawing. Spend time with your kids drawing pictures together, and then hang your art throughout the house to remind you of the special time together.
3. Show appreciation and say “thank you.” Everyday life can get tough, and sometimes we forget to appreciate the little things our kids do for us. Make an effort to thank them for even the smallest things. Did your kiddo do a great job getting ready for bed? Tell her how much you appreciate it. It may seem little to you, but it will mean the world to her.
4. Don’t say anything when your kids dress themselves “creatively.” Left on their own, many kids will dress themselves in mismatched outfits and funky shoes. Why not let them have a day where you go with the flow? Maybe even tell them how much you love their outfit!
5. Jump in a puddle and play in the rain. Have fun in nature and let your kid see that you’re not afraid to get a little wet now and then.
6. Share words of affection. Make sure you tell your kids you love them, or how you’re proud of them for simply being a good kid. Words can be powerful, and your kids will remember what you say.
7. Spend time outside together. Turn off the screens and step outdoors for family fun. We’re not talking about major camping trips or outdoor adventures. Little things like going for a family walk, a trip to the park, or having a snowball fight will make your kids feel happy to be with you.
8. Have a tea party. Get those pinkies up, make finger sandwiches, brew some tea (or juice boxes) and put on a fancy hat for fun.
9. Give them extra time before bedtime. Does your kid constantly ask to push her bedtime? Surprise her one night by letting her have an extra 20-30 minutes before snoozing.
10. Help your kid be brave. Let them express themselves fully and read a few books about bravery. Give your kiddos the tools they need to express self-confidence. These small efforts will go a long way in instilling confidence in even the youngest of tykes.
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11. Eat a family meal together. It’s okay if a family dinner isn’t your thing. How about family breakfast, or lunch on the weekends? Whatever works for your family, make an effort to have a special meal together.
12. Wear the handmade jewelry item they made you. Remember that macaroni necklace your son made you? Take it out of the drawer and wear it for a day.
13. Tell them a story about what they were like as babies. Remind them about the first time they smiled, their first word, or the first time they walked.
14. Let them know it’s okay to quit. If your kiddo has been miserable playing soccer or attempting a new skill, give them permission to move on and leave the unhappy activity behind.
15. Play a game. Get out a deck or card and play Go Fish, or gather around the table to play a board game.
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16. Watch the sunrise or sunset together. It only lasts a few brief moments, but sometimes that’s all you need to make a big impression with your kid.
17. Help them clean their room. We’re always telling our kids to pick up their stuff and clean up. When you have a bit more time to give, make a point to do the clean-up work together.
18. Have an impromptu dance party. This can be as simple as putting on a few songs and dancing in the living room. No fancy equipment. Just some music and a willingness to move.
19. Let your kid pick the dinner menu. This little gesture can make your kids feel really important, especially if you have a picky eater in the house. Need meal inspirations? We’ve got you covered with these cookbook recommendations.
20. Play video games with them. While the idea of playing Minecraft or Roblox is probably not your idea of fun, the opposite is most certainly true for your young gamer. How much would they love it if you took some time to play alongside them?
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21. Learn something new together. Have you always wanted to make a pie? Do it with your kiddo! Does your little one want to learn a new dance move? Get your rhythm on together. Working together to achieve a goal will strengthen your bond and show your kiddos you care about their efforts.
22. Read together. Grab a book and snuggle up on the couch together and read. Whether your kiddo is small and needs you to read aloud or you’ve got a young reader who prefers their own book, take a few minutes to bond over books. Your kids will remember this time together.
23. Have a pajama day. While it’s great to get outside, there’s nothing wrong with having a day indoors that focuses on indoor play, movies, books and stay in pajamas all day.
24. Print photos and make an album for your kids. We have thousands of photos, but they exist virtually. Print out a handful of photos and create a small album for your little one to flip through. They will love this simple act of kindness.
25. Write a note of encouragement. This can be as simple as “I love you and thanks for being a great kid.” Slip the note in their lunch box. Tape it to the mirror, or leave it on your kiddo’s pillow.
—Leah R. Singer