Help your child feel special

September 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Wonderful ways to help your child feel special. Fun ideas for the whole family from BabyCenter.com.

Wonderful ways to make your child feel special

Create little morning moments
As we all know, mornings can set the tone for a persons whole day. Rather than just setting their alarm or flinging open the door and yelling "get up", try to take a couple minutes to wake up your children in a special way. Gently walk your fingers over his legs and feet to wake him up. You can even crawl in bed to snuggle for a little bit so that you can wake up together.

Make a special outing in the mornings. Whether you go get coffee or a bagel. You can take one or two of the kids while your spouse takes the other that way they have their special time too. We always see Ben Affleck out with Little Violet at Starbucks. He will have to continue to do that when their second child comes along.

Make up special stories
Children love being the center of our attention. If your child has the chance, for just a moment, to be the hero in her own story, it will likely become her favorite bedtime story. If you are particularly crafty you can even make book for them out of construction paper based on a famous story and just use their names. Brooke Shields wrote her book "Welcome to your World, Baby" through the eyes of her 5 year old daughter Rowan and how she excitedly viewed the arrival of her younger sister Grier.

Ask for help
It's all too easy to treat a child like a child and doing everything for them. But including them in your tasks can instantly make them feel included and special. Have your child pick out the vegetable for dinner while at the store. When you get home have your child set the table and even make name cards for the family. You can also have you oldest kids help push their sibling in their stroller. You often see Heidi Klums daughter Leni pushing around her two brothers.

Break the rules
Kids love to break rules. So imagine how fun it would be just to have waffles for dinner -- or stay up past bedtime and watch a movie with Mommy or Daddy? We have all seen baby Shiloh with a bag of cheetos before, maybe mommy Angie felt like breaking the rules.

Have fun at bedtime
Bedtime is a perfect time to make your child feel special. Create a special thing to do with each of your kids such as sing a song together or talking about what they are looking forward to over the next few days. You can also have special time with the whole family by all piling in the bed together to watch a movie. Brooke Burke and Angelina both say that all 4 of their kids get in the bed with mom and dad for special time.

Get silly
Being silly is something kids understand well -- and appreciate wholeheartedly in others. There's no better way to get a kid's attention than by being wacky -- and it can make them feel like you're in their world with them, instead of up in your adult world.

Mom Gina Luttrell sings to her three-year-old every night with a twist: "Instead of reciting the exact words to "You are my Sunshine,' we sing 'You are my sunshine cupcake head.'Or, instead of 'You'll never know dear,' we sing 'You'll never YES dear.'"

Author and speaker Edna Ellison of South Carolina puts her kids in the bath with a dab of shampoo. Then she announces that there's going to be a hairdo contest. "At the end of a bath, we celebrate the crazy hairdos!"

Andrea Tompkins of Ontario, Canada says she celebrates her kids' half-birthdays with a half-cake. "There are no presents or balloons. We just sing half of the "Happy Birthday" song and eat our half-cake."

Use your words
Parenting experts agree that while it might feel most natural to say "I love you" or "I'm proud of you," focusing on the you instead of the I can make your child feel special.

"If you want to raise your children's self esteem, you don't want them to be overly concerned about your pride," explains parenting expert Marilyn Suttle in Michigan. "Try focusing on their own pride by saying something like, 'You must feel so proud of yourself!' "

Dr. Linda Miles in Florida, author of All Aboard the Brain Train, Teaching Your Child to Live a Purpose-Filled Path, echoes this advice. "Repeat positive thoughts and ideas like: 'You can do it and I will help' or 'It's okay to take your time.'"

Pediatric nurse and mother of three, Jennifer Walker -- a founder of Moms On Call says that another fun way to acknowledge your children is to let them "hear us praise their good behavior in front of the people they love and admire."

Walker explains that you might recite the day "at the dinner table," when, say, you had told your son "he could not have some ice cream for breakfast he did not throw a tantrum. He was sad for a moment and then he moved on and went to play with his toys.' "

Or, you might even let your child eavedrop, like Silvana Clark, author of 301 Bright Ideas For Busy Kids (www.silvanaclark.com). She calls her mom on the phone when her daughter is in earshot. "Then I let her 'overhear" me talking on the phone to grandma about something positive she did."

And just savor the little things
No matter what, parenting experts agree that sometimes it's the smallest, simplest things that make our children feel so good.

Anne Wear of North Carolina, for instance, says that she makes her three kids feel special by giving them unique nicknames: "Midge," "Bean," and "Mr. Boo."

"I've told them this is a special name that I call them to let them know how great they are," says Wear.

Stress and wellness specialist Beverly Beuermann-King of Work Smart Live Smart, leaves notes for her sons when she's traveling for work. While she's gone, her husband "puts these notes in their lunch boxes. I also stick notes to their pillows that say 'Sweet dreams.'"

For author and essayist Kaui Hemmings of Hawaii, showing her daughter that she's special means volunteering in her preschool class. "It makes her really happy when I go on field trips with her preschool. I'm not sure whether she feels special because I'm there, or if she's proud to show me her world and her rules away from home."

Although she never imagined herself as a mother who wrestles, Michelle Garrett of Ohio is just that. "I will drop everything to wrestle with him," she says about her six-year-old son.

For Richie Escovedo, father of two, a little dancing does the trick. "During Dancing with the Stars, my daughter dressed up in one of her Disney princess costumes and danced. It melted my heart to hear her say, 'Dance with me daddy!' There is nothing better."

And even just using the word "special" can make your child feel special.

Mom of three, Carol Schiller in Washington state says that "the word 'special' is very powerful."

"Ever since they were very little, I have asked them: 'Who is my special boy/girl?' " says Shciller. "Of course they all know the answer is 'Me!' Now, whenever we are together I can ask 'Who is my special?' to the group and they all chime in together, 'ME!!' -- even my two-year-old."

About Linda J. Murray, Editor in Chief, BabyCenter, LLC
Linda J. Murray is the Editor in Chief of BabyCenter. She began her career at BabyCenter in 1998 in the fledgling days of the Internet and helped build the Web site into the leading online destination for new and expectant parents. During her tenure at BabyCenter, traffic has grown from 250,000 visitors to well over 3 million a month. Prior to joining BabyCenter she was a Senior Editor at Child magazine where she specialized in the subjects of children's health and safety. Her career also included editing positions at Redbook, Self, and Cosmopolitan magazines, and a stint as the Associate Producer of the public television program, The Open Mind. Murray is the co-author of The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth (Rodale). She has appeared on numerous TV programs including 20/20, The CBS Early Show, CNN, and MSNBC News. A transplanted New Yorker, she now lives in the Bay Area with her family. She is the proud mother of a preschool daughter.


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