As children grow and develop, support and positivity in their daily lives mean a lot to them. It is important for parents, caretakers, neighbors, coaches and other adults to show children that they care. When a community invests in children’s mental, emotional and physical well-being, they are raised to be happy and healthy.
“Children thrive when they hear encouraging words,” says The Kempe Foundation President & COO Julia Stone. “Meaningful phrases like ‘I’m proud of who you are,’ ‘You are intelligent and kind,’ and ‘You can do this’ give children a sense of capability and self-worth.”
Communities can also support children by spending time with them, even if it’s just a few minutes.
“Many studies have shown that quality time is more beneficial for children than quantity,” says Stone. “Even if you only have 15 minutes, there are lots of ways to make the time you do have impactful. You can read a book together, make arts and crafts, play outside or just sit and have a conversation about life. Children feel valued when asked their day and how they’re feeling.”
Research also shows that affection and genuine displays of unconditional love make children happier and healthier. Children who have experienced affection and nurturing from a young age have shown more frequent levels of enhanced brain development throughout life’s growth stages. Simple ways to express positive emotions to children can include hugs, meaningful eye-contact, and words of admiration.
“When children are shown unconditional love, they are given a feeling of stability that enhances mental capacity,” says Stone. “Strong bonds with loved ones help shape children into more well-rounded and well-adjusted human beings. Just a little time and energy from adults in a community can truly change the life of a child for the better.”
Encouraging words, quality time and affection make a world of difference for children.
This April, as organizations across the country recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month, Kempe encourages communities to join it in raising happy healthy children.
Dedicating time each day to show that you care is the best way to raise happy healthy children. Download and hang this list on your refrigerator as inspiration. Each day, choose one of these activities to do with a child:
- Color with your child
- Give a hug just because
- Build a blanket fort together and hang out inside
- Say “I love you” at breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Take a walk together
- Let your child choose a game and play it with them
- Catch your child doing something right and celebrate them with verbal praise
- Plan a meal and cook it together
- Read a book together
- Tell your child a happy story from your childhood
- Do a craft together, and don’t worry about cleaning up the mess until the end
- Pack a picnic and go to the park together
- Take your child on a nature walk and play “I spy”
- Put your phone and electronic devices in “time out” for one hour
- Send your child a special card to open in the mail
- Let your child pick out a picture of him or herself to put in a frame in your house
- Ask your child where they would like to go and take them there
- Pack a love note in your child’s lunch
- Stop everything for 20 minutes and do only what your child wants to do
- Do a household chore together
- Create a scavenger hunt for your child and a friend around your neighborhood
- Do something kind for a neighbor together – like rake a lawn or bring them cookies
- Go to the museum together
- Take your child to the grocery store and work together to pick out the ingredients for a healthy meal
- Color the driveway with chalk together
- Play dress up together
- Tell your child specifically what is unique or special about them
- Offer a word of encouragement when your child tries something difficult
- Finger paint together
- Make funny faces together and laugh
Thank you for your commitment to protecting children and strengthening families.