37 Tiny Ways To Give Positive Attention To Kids

I’ve been writing a lot recently about how important it is to give positive attention to our kids. Children thrive on attention and if they can’t get it by being well behaved, they will get it by being naughty. As parents, I think we can all agree we’d rather have the former than the latter!

So today I want to give you as many ideas as I possibly can to give positive attention to your child.

Before I start, though, I want to give a few pointers on how to use positive attention in everyday situations.

How to give positive attention to your kids without breaking the bank - child on a red climbing frame

What is positive attention?

When I use the phrase “positive attention”, I simply mean letting your kids know that you’ve noticed them.

We need to be constantly on the lookout for ways to affirm, encourage and build up our kids (because the world will do everything it can to knock them down). And when we spot an opportunity to engage positively or praise them, we need to grab it. Just something as simple as a nod of approval or a smile really can boost a child’s confidence.

Give positive attention to kids and they will become more confident - child in pink coat on a zip line

How to use positive attention

Small but often

Positive attention isn’t about throwing a big party every time your child gets a certificate at school, or taking them on holiday because they passed their exams (although it’s fine to do these as well if you wish).

Instead, it’s about creating an environment of positive attention. It is just a normal, everyday part of being at home; a child steps through the door and instantly knows that they are cherished, accepted, valued, appreciated. And yes I know that this is a given for 98% of parents, but is it translating to our kids? How often do we take the time to TELL them specifically?

Positive attention is about letting our kids know, in no uncertain terms, that we see them and we treasure them.

Easy ways for parents to give positive attention to their children - dad and kids on a climbing frame


If we can give positive attention before it’s asked for, it will mean even more to our little ones. Don’t wait until they ask you to look at their drawing – go over and ask to have a look yourself! This shows that you are genuinely interested in what they’re doing. Make the first move.

What does it mean to give positive attention to kids? Here are 37 ideas - child in blue coat on a zip wire


Some people worry that when we give positive attention, we are in danger of creating arrogant kids. But it’s important to remember that positive attention isn’t purely about praise – it can simply be a smile, a thumbs up, a kind word. We are just acknowledging our kids and, in a small way, letting them know that they are loved.

We are aiming for children who are confident in themselves rather than ones who look down on others. So try to avoid making comparisons – e.g. “This picture is great; much better than Jonathan’s.” Also, encourage your child to affirm and build up others by following your example – this will give them a heart that looks for the good in others.

37 tiny ways to give positive attention to your children - child stood on top of a slide

37 ways to give positive attention

So I’ve already mentioned a few examples of everyday ways to give positive attention to our kids but now I’m going to give you a nice long list of ideas to try.

  • Smile
  • Squeeze hands (we do 3 squeezes as a secret code for “I love you”)
  • Send them a song
  • Tell them how much you enjoy their company
  • Thumbs up
  • Take a photo of something they’re proud of
  • Surprise them with their favourite snack at school pick up
  • Make a point of planning in time together
  • Let them overhear you telling someone else about their good behaviour
  • Listen attentively when they talk
  • Tell them you’ve noticed their good behaviour
  • High five
Ideas for simple ways to give positive attention to kids - mum on a zip line

Haha yes this is me having a play too…!

  • Let them choose a meal
  • Send them a postcard
  • Hand on their head / back / arm as you walk past
  • Put fresh flowers in their bedroom
  • Text them a compliment / joke / gif so they know you’re thinking of them
  • Go to parent assembly even if they haven’t got a certificate that week
  • Cuddle
  • Stick their certificate / picture on the wall
  • Ask if you can join in / watch what they’re doing
  • Sit next to them
  • Make their favourite meal
  • Put your phone away

Everyday ways to give positive attention to children - dad playing with children in the park

  • Write a funny poem about them
  • Send an interesting YouTube clip on something you’ve been chatting about recently
  • Play a boardgame
  • Read a book together
  • Give your undivided attention
  • Stay and watch their sports training / music rehearsal
  • Put a note in their lunchbox / pencil case
  • Hold hands / link arms
  • Craft / bake together
  • Leave a surprise on their pillow for bedtime
  • Watch a film / TV show together
  • Go for a walk together
  • Dig out some old photos and reminisce on your shared memories

Children thrive on attention - here are 37 ways that you can give positive attention to your child instead of negative attention - dad ready to catch kids as they play in the playground

So those are just a few ideas to get you started. But the two recurring themes through the list are:

  1. Make yourself available
  2. Explicitly comment on their good behaviour

Our kids need to know that our attention is readily available whenever they need it. And the way that we do that is to offer it freely and not be afraid to tell them how proud / impressed / grateful we are when they choose to do the right thing. In my opinion, it’s not enough to just assume that they know.

I’m sure there are tonnes of other ways to give positive attention to our kids. Let me know what you do in your house to let them know that you’re thinking of them and to affirm that they are loved all day, every day.

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37 Tiny Ways To Show Your Kids Positive Attention - when we give positive attention freely, our children know they are valued and they don't need to misbehave to get attention. - Positive attention vs negative attention #positiveparenting

37 Ways To Give Positive Attention To Our Kids - positive parenting ideas in a simple list for you to try at home #positiveparenting


Add yours
  1. 3

    Thumbs up are my favourite. My boys (3yo) have finally grasped it and theres nothing better than looking over at them and seeing them giving the thumbs up and a smile back at you

    Some other great ones in your list Lucy, thanks for sharing! #blogcrush

  2. 4

    What a fabulous post. I think positive attention is so important yet I’ve seen parents who don’t seem to give any at all. I love all the little ways you’ve shown how it can be given.

  3. 5
    Cassie Parish

    I look forward to your posts each week. They are so useful and encouraging and help me to remain calm and considerate when I’m parenting rather than getting frustrated and making it all about how I feel. I think a lot of us get wrapped up in how being a parent makes us feel and forget how the child feels about our everyday words and actions.


  4. 9

    As ever, a great post. I do quite a lot of these but you always give me new ideas. Flowers the the bedroom, for example is lovely. How do you send a postcard please? It would have to just have pictures for mine. #Blogcrush

  5. 10
    John Adams

    Yes, some good ideas here. In fact one or two, such as giving the kids certificates, that I have been meaning to do for ages. I think you have at long last inspired me to follow through and make it happen! Oh, ues, you will have noticed I have visited the linky as I said I would! Thanks for hosting

  6. 11
    Liberty Henwick

    I like what you said there about making the first move. These tips become even more valuable as they become teenagers when they struggle to accept they are valued and loved. Each of my kids are so different, one of them is affectionate and loves hugs and one of them doesn’t like to be touched but this list is great as it has so much that can be applied in different situations. #blogcrush

  7. 12

    Oh I do love this post! The little things often count for more somehow, and I remember how my Mum used to wink at me to reassure me when I’d catch her eye in public – these are the acts of endearment that cement a Mother’s bond I think. #thesatsesh xxx

  8. 17
    Daydreams of a Mum

    Some great ideas here!!! I think I’m going to make a big effort to even use some of these on the grown ups I like in my life !!! My teenagers fave thing is when I cook their fave dinner . It’s such a little thing to do but they love it ! #BlogCrush

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