I was swimming at Pohiki Bay the other day and there was a lot of kids and families there. I usually enjoy watching everybody. But this particular day I watched one child swimming on the periphery of many adults and the adults were having some beers, laughing and having a good time. The child was on a boogie board and kept saying, "Dad look, Dad look, Daaaaaddddd, look." I watched this over and over and the child was completely ignored. Watching things like this make me so sad because I've learned over the years and through working with thousands of couples and parents that the power of acknowledgment is vital to self esteem. Sometimes we get caught up in the story that acknowledgment means agreement or acknowledgement takes a lot of time. That's just BS, simply acknowledging someone with eye contact and a verbal message that you can't give your full attention right now is enough. Obviously we need boundaries to have our own space and time. If I'm not available, I will often look the person in the eyes and say, "What you have to show me or say to me is important and I'm not available to give you my full attention right now, can we do it in 30 minutes?" Name a time when you can be fully present for them. This allows them to feel acknowledged, important and also to know that you're not abandoning them. We can't always show up right in the moment but we can always show up. We can give acknowledgment usually immediately. Another reason I see people not practice acknowledgment is that they are afraid if they acknowledge or understand the other person that they're agreeing with them. It's important to understand that acknowledgment and understanding does not equal agreement. It means you're willing to not take it personal, to see the story the other person is experiencing. Or if their current reality is true you can understand and relate to how they are feeling or acting. Understanding and acknowledging doesn't have to equal agreement. Take the time to be present, if even for a moment, and let someone know that they're important to you. Reassure them that you're interested and let them know when you can offer your full presence. Being ignored is hurtful, whatever your age.