Growing up, there were some things my mom was not good at. To her, anything that came from a box and had to be mixed at home qualified as “from scratch” cooking or baking. My brothers and I grew up thinking it was perfectly normal to eat cold cereal for dinner. What? Is it not?
While she may not have been the gourmet type, there were a lot of things she did right. Things that mattered more. My mom had a gift for conjuring up thoughtful gestures. I’d sometimes return from a really bad day at school to find a Hallmark card left on my bed, her slanted script overflowing from inside with words chosen especially for me. She often performed drive-by acts of kindness, though not so often that we came to expect them; we were always surprised by the small tokens of her affection.
I would love to say that I inherited that same trait from her. Sadly, I did not; that sort of thing often slips my mind. And that is precisely why I have to be much more deliberate about doing small gestures for my own kids. Sure, I tell them each and every day that I love them. But as a writer, I’ve learned that one of the key tips for success lies in showing, not telling. With that in mind, I’ve come up with five easy ways to show children just how precious they are.
1. A lunchbox note – These are easy enough to make using index cards and some markers. If you’re not the artsy type, you can click over to my blog (www.suchthespot.com) and download printable ones for free.
2. Breakfast in bed – If you have one of those kids who rise with the sun each morning this one could be tough, but try anyway. Beat her out of bed on a random Saturday morning. Slip into her room with a tray of fresh fruit and a muffin (it’s okay if you used boxed Betty Crocker). Sit with her while she eats and make time to talk about whatever she wants. Fair warning: you should be prepared to wash her sheets as soon as she finishes eating.
3. Date night – Schedule an evening out, not with your spouse, but with your child. Take in a baseball game or a play or an art class. Bonus points for dressing up.
4. Text a compliment – This one is perfect for teenagers. I know that my teens are accustomed to getting texted appointment or chore reminders from me. Every once in a while, I try to send a text praising an impressive school progress report or thanking them for keeping their bedrooms tidy. It literally takes seconds to do, but it might make a lasting impression.
5. Give a coupon – If you notice that your high schooler has a particularly heavy homework load, slide a chore pass under his or her bedroom door. He or she will appreciate not having to walk the dog or empty the dishwasher or take out the trash.