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30 Little Things That Mean a Lot to Kids

By Margery D. Rosen from Parents Magazine

While these gestures may seem trivial to adults, they go a long way with your little ones. Here are a few easy tricks to make your child smile.

  1. Wear that macaroni necklace to work. Well, at least until you’re safely out the door.
  2. Tape a family mantra or slogan (Unstoppable! We can, we will! We’ve got this!) to your refrigerator door and invoke it whenever your child feels discouraged.
  3. Cultivate your own rituals and traditions: Taco Tuesdays, Sunday-afternoon bike ride, apple picking every fall.
  4. Show as much enthusiasm on amusement-park rides as they do.
  5. Let your child wear her dress-up clothes to the supermarket. All month if she wants to.
  6. Take in a pet that needs a home—and a child’s love.
  7. Slip a note (and an occasional piece of chocolate) into her lunch box.
  8. Cook heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast.
  9. Crank up the music in the middle of homework and have a dance party.
  10. Build your own Minecraft world alongside his.
  11. Go for a walk with just one child.
  12. Share your old diaries, photos, and letters from when you were her age.
  13. Say “yes” to something usually off-limits, like sitting on the counter.
  14. Get out the glitter glue and make a birthday card for your child.
  15. If you quarrel in front of your child, make sure that he also sees you make up.
  16. When her room looks like a tsunami swept through it, close the door and get on with your day.
  17. Skype or do FaceTime with Grandma every now and then.
  18. If your child has given it a good try, but he’s still miserable and anxious and really, truly wants to quit the team, give him your blessing.
  19. Go ahead: Let your 4-year-old stomp in every puddle along the way. Even without rain boots.
  20. Give your toddler a chance to fight his own battles in the sandbox or on the playground before you intervene.
  21. Hold off with the barrage of how-was-your-day questions if your child comes home from school grumpy and tired. You can always get the rundown at the dinner table.
  22. Ask your kid to teach you how to do something for a change. And once you get the hang of it, be sure to tell him what a good teacher he is.
  23. Let your child overhear you saying something wonderful about her.
  24. Stay up late to see the full moon.
  25. Print their childhood photos so they have something physical to look at one day.
  26. Don’t be in a hurry to tell your kid to let it go. He needs to vent too.
  27. Make a secret family handshake.
  28. Hang a whiteboard in her room to leave messages for each other.
  29. Start a pillow fight.
  30. Thank your child when he does a chore on his own—even if it’s just hanging up a wet towel without prompting or refilling the empty water pitcher.