When I'm asked about what parents can do everyday (besides praying) that can make a huge difference in their kids' lives, I tell them three things that can make them "AAA Parents."
Affection. Everyone needs affection to thrive, but kids want affection from their parents. I'm convinced that one of reasons teenagers are so sexually promiscuous (especially girls) is because they lack affection from the significant male figure in their life. My parents were great, but they weren't overly affectionate, so I chose to change the script in how I parented. I pour affection on my kids through hugs, back rubs, and snuggling during TV time.
Affirmation. Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on one good compliment." Unfortunately, many kids go two months without any genuine affirmation from their parents. Through their words parents yield so much power to shape their kids. Imagine your child has a bank account and each encouragement, affirmation, positive comment, intentional and personal word of kindness is a deposit of a penny to their account. Each negative comment is like withdrawing a quarter. How is your child's bank account doing?
Attention. Simply stated, this means parents need to focus and engage on what's happening in their kids' lives. Giving kids attention means more than popping by their bedroom and waving goodnight -- it means tucking them in. It means more than asking how their day went -- it means asking and really listening to the answer and then asking more questions. It means more than making sure they get homework done -- it means helping and coaching in a way that they feel confident and empowered. Kids need to feel that they matter to their parents!
Parenting isn't easy. Intentional parenting is even more difficult, but the rewards your child will reap through affection, affirmation and attention are worth the difficulty it takes for parents to make these into daily habits!