Take Note

Communication is an important part of keeping relationships strong. Small words of encouragement go a long way in staying close to our kids.

But once children are in school and the afternoons are filled with sports activities, music lessons and hanging out with friends, how do we even get a loving message to our child?

Lunch boxes or bags make excellent mailboxes—just grab a pen and paper and drop in a note. If you want to get really creative, find a toothpick and some food color. You can write or draw right on a sandwich or cookie! Permanent marker works well for writing on the drink box. If your child likes stickers, choose one just for him and stick it on a sandwich bag.

Other great places to leave notes are in a backpack, on the bathroom mirror, on a closet shelf, in a shoe, on the computer keyboard or send an e-mail. If you have an especially organized child, find an empty spot on his personal calendar and jot a simple note, such as: "You are special. Have a great day," "Thanks for taking out the trash without being told. You are really handling responsibility well," "I 'm proud of you" or "I 'm so glad I'm your mom."

One year my daughter's "lunch bunch" wanted the same affirmation she received so badly that several of her friends called me and asked if I would include notes for them each day.

Affirming your child in writing gives him something that can be read over and over. He can put the notes in a drawer or box and pull one out on a day when he needs a little extra encouragement.

"Parental affirmation is a gift all children need," says David W. Cox, a Christian family counselor. "One of the most positive things parents can do to affect their children is to speak blessings. Children who receive encouragement from their parents do not seek validation in potentially destructive ways as teens."

Middle schoolers are never too old to be told they are loved. Notes don 't have to be long. And no matter what the words say, the message is still the same: "You are special. I 'm glad we have each other."

Background Information

Journey of No Return
Sometimes as parents, we have a knee-jerk response to our kids as we're barraged by their numerous inquires and desires. Maybe it's time to stop being so negative.

When Not To Discipline
Parents should recognize when they should and shouldn't discipline their children.

When You Feel Like Calling in the SWAT Team
Are your children constantly testing you? This classic parenting advice will help you regain the upper hand.

Questions and Answers

After I spank my child, she usually wants to hug me and make up, but I continue to be cool to her for a few hours. Do you think that is right?

We'd like to be more unified in our approach, but how do we successfully move from two financial approaches to one?

How long do you think a child should be allowed to cry after being punished? Is there a limit?

I have never spanked my 3-year-old because I am afraid it will teach her to hit others and be a violent person. Do you think I am wrong?

It just seems barbaric to cause pain to a defenseless child. Is it healthy to spank him or her?

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Other Things to Consider

Ten Things Toddlers Wish They Could Tell You
It can do wonders for the frazzled parent to know what's going on in the mind of your little one.

TransitionsHaving a Baby, Preparing for Adolescence

Life PressuresWorking Moms, Stay-At-Home Moms, Time for Family

RelationshipsParents and Adult Children, Blended Families