Yesterday I was talking to a young dad at church (who used to by in my youth group) and it was fun for me to see how eager he is in wanting to be a good dad.

He asked me, “Besides praying for and with children, what else can I get in the habit of doing for my kids?”

Great question!

There are many things parents can do, but in the interest of a reconnecting hallway conversation, I passed on three intentional actions that I try to with my kids every day. They’re easy to remember, here they are:

1. AFFECTION: Everyone child needs it (actually, everyone needs it) and they want it from their parents. I’m convinced that one of reasons teenagers are so sexually promiscuous (especially girls) is because they lack physical affection for the significant male figure in their life.

My parents were great, but they weren’t overly affectionate. I choose to change the script in how I parent. Now, I pour it on: hugs, kisses, cuddling during TV, holding their hand, etc…

For a short season, during the teenage years, the affection wasn’t always returned but I knew it would when they got older (and I was right).

Every day you can find a way to be affectionate with your child.

2. AFFIRMATION: Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on one good compliment.” Unfortunately, many kids go that long without genuine affirmation.

Parents yield so much shaping power with their words. When mom introduces her little daughter Amy as shy, Amy lives up to mom’s words as she hides behind her legs. Amy has heard that description so long, it has become prophetic. Words have the ability to shape a life.

Children don’t often return the encouragement and many parents tire and weaken of speaking good words to their children because they feel like they’re not getting anything in return. It’s not about the parent…it’s about the child.

Imagine your child like an empty piggy bank and each encouragement, affirmation, positive comment, intentional and personal word of kindness is a deposit of a penny. Each negative comment (i.e. “You’re so selfish, mean, nasty, irresponsible, whatever…”) is like withdrawing a quarter.

How rich is the bank of your child?

Be wise and generous with your words and you won’t regret those life-changing words.

3. ATTENTION: Simply stated, you’re focused and engaged on what’s happening in their life.

Giving attention is more than popping by their bedroom and waving goodnight, it’s tucking them in. It’s more than asking how their day went, it’s asking and really listening to the answer and then asking more questions. It’s more than making sure they get their homework done, it’s helping them so they feel confident and empowered.

Kids need to feel the perception that they matter to their parents. Even if the parent thinks they’re doing a good job at this, it’s the child who is the judge. Perception is real and important for a child.

Give it a try this week. These actions are easier to remember than they are to put into practice, but I know you can do it.

Parenting isn’t easy. Intentional parenting is even more difficult, but the rewards your child will read thru affection, affirmation, and attention are worth the difficulty it takes to make these habitual.

Question: What do you try to do as a parent every day? Share it with others here.