“Dad, we just need to go out more as a family.” Those words from my teenage daughter pierced through my heart. And I knew exactly what she meant by it. I’m naturally an introverted homebody, and my daughter is naturally an extrovert who thrives around people and places away from home. In that moment, I realized this was her way of telling me how she wanted to feel more seen and valued through our family schedule.
Is it possible that our kids can feel overlooked in their own home? Yes, it’s very possible, especially when quality family time seems scarce and schedules are very busy and demanding. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 5 ways to make sure your kids don’t feel overlooked in your home.
1. Acknowledge them each time you or they get home.
Nothing makes a child feel overlooked more than simply failing to acknowledge their presence or acting like they aren’t even there. Yet how many times have we walked in the front door from a long day’s work, and barely even grunted at the ones we love? Don’t just verbally acknowledge your kids; show them some form of affection in a way that’s most meaningful to them.Don’t just verbally acknowledge your kids; show them some form of affection in a way that’s meaningful to them.
2. Write them notes of encouragement.
I can still remember the warm feeling I got as an elementary student finding notes in my lunchpail from my mom. It was such a simple way to say I see you, and I love you. And for those with teens at home who seem to see little of each other, it doesn’t mean you can’t still communicate effectively and affectionately. Handwritten notes give you a way to speak love even when you can’t speak out loud. Leave one in their bedroom, on the kitchen table, or even taped to the bathroom mirror.
3. Go out of your way to compliment them or what they’ve done.
Kids love to be praised and recognized for who they are and what they’ve accomplished. They’re desperately seeking our approval, whether we know it or not. Keep an eye out for regular ways to notice them and their achievements in school, at home, in sports, or anywhere. Then watch their faces light up when they see that you took the time to notice.
4. Communicate in ways that matter most to them.
For my teenage daughter, this looked like going out of the house more often as a family. However, for some kids, this might be texting, or commenting on their social posts (if they’re OK with that), or through nonverbal communication like gifts, acts of service, or physical affection. If you have multiple children, this can often be different for each child, but it’s usually not hard to figure out with just a little observation or a few questions.
5. Find ways to be engaged in their everyday life.
Kids feel seen and loved when parents attend their sporting events, help them on pet projects, or simply ask about something that matters to them. Children also naturally love to talk about things connected to their passion, whatever that may be. As a parent, use your child’s passions to your advantage to make them feel seen and heard.
Sound off: What is a meaningful way that you could make your child feel seen and loved today?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you want me to know about you?”