7 Ways to show your child s/he belongs and is important to the family (and counting…)

  • Children love feeling significant in real ways, so give them chores with responsibility that carries consequences for the family. A 3-year-old can set the cutlery. A 13-year-old can cook a meal.
    And then refrain from rescuing them (or the rest of the family).
  • Sincerely invite their opinion on various issues and let them speak before correcting or interrupting
  • Ask for suggestions for solving a particular problem or tricky situation
  • Convey your confidence in their judgment while offering your support if they ask for or need it.
  • Ask for their help and acknowledge how they have been truly helpful.
    EX: “Jake (14), I’ve got this presentation tonight and have not yet put together the handouts and feel quite stressed about it. You do these things so quickly and it would be such a help to me if you can do it with me. Would that be okay for you? Or can you think of another way you could help me?”
    You will be astonished at Jake’s response, assuming that this is the general tone in your family. If it is not yet the usual tone, just practice a bit and you will find family life much more pleasant.
  • Family Meetings with the children leading and bringing suggestions which the whole family agrees to.
  • When children do respond to these requests, thank them by being explicit and concrete in how it did help you.

The list is truly endless but you note the pattern. Invite children to be involved in family life in ways that give them real responsibility and acknowledge their efforts when they do contribute. This fosters confidence, responsibility and competence.