Don’t underestimate the value of time spent with your child one-to-one. It may seem like a big order in your busy life but what really matters more? Just giving your child your presence with no agenda to teach or guide. Just enter your child’s world from time to time. This can be a way of affirming a child’s interests as they show you what they like to do. You can get curious without taking over. Spending time with your child like this is showing affection which is more than holding a child, it is saying “I am here for you, I like spending time with you.”

Letting a child take the lead shows acceptance: “You don’t have to change; I love you as you are. “The three A’s: Affirming, Affection and Acceptance are the pillars of unconditional love.

Have you ever noticed how differently children act when they have you all to themselves? When there is no competition for your time with their siblings or your partner they relax into the fold of your relationship. The negative attention-getting takes a back seat and makes room for a more relatable way of engaging. This kind of exchange doesn’t need to take hours, but it does need to happen—frequently. Take random moments to show up and make yourself completely present. No phone within reach, no cluttered mind, your child will notice.

As kids mature, they may want to spend less time with you, but they still need you there. They need those three A’s although it might look a little different. This is a stage of parenting that calls on everything you have so you can show up as a caring adult. One who walks away peacefully instead of getting the last word in. One who gives empathy instead of proving that your child should have made a better choice. Spending quality time with an older child or teen means to be free of asking too many questions.

Many very difficult behaviors in children disappear when parents set time aside to be with them and to make that time a priority. Children sense our presence and can tell when we are fully engaged with them. Spending time together not only nurtures the self-esteem of a child but also deepens the bond between parent and child. Nothing is more valuable than our connection with our children.

LIFE Seminars has two books available, Sidestepping the Power Struggle and The Parent Child Connection. See lifeseminars.com.