If there is one goal I have as a parent, it is for my children to know without a doubt that I love them. It sounds like that should be easy. Don’t our children realize that everything we do as parents is to ensure their well-being? The simple truth is – no. Our kids do not just pick up on our love by osmosis; it takes intentionality on our part.
When children are loved, they are more secure and resilient in a world that does not always accept them. Beyond that, they are growing up to be the next generation of leaders, spouses, parents and friends. To do this well, they need know how to love others. Here is a core parenting principle to keep in mind: Children need to be shown love in order to show love. The good news is that showing our kids love doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some practical ideas you can implement today.
- Show them loving touch. This can be as simple as tousling their hair, giving them a high five, hugging them, or scratching their back. As they get older, this may change to a pat on the back or a fist bump. Be sensitive to your child’s age, gender and receptivity to touch, but remember that the need for loving human touch lasts a lifetime.
- Smile at them. Simple, but an effective way to communicate that seeing them brings you joy.
- Greet them in the morning when they wake up, and when they come home from school, sports or work activities. This shows your child that seeing them is an important part of your day.
- Keep in touch with them through a note in their lunchbox, a message on the fridge, or a text to their cell phone. Kids may not say anything in response, but you are showing them in a tangible way that keeping connected with them is important to you.
- Make their favorite food once in a while, just because. The Pillsbury Company had it right – “nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven!” No matter how old one gets, there are powerful memories associated with mom’s (or dad’s) home cooking. It doesn’t have to be extravagant to be appreciated by your child. And don’t be afraid to tell your child that you made it just because you love them!
- Make and turn down their bed once in a while. There is a reason that hotels do this – it communicates care and comfort. I love to add in clean sheets and a comforter that is still warm from the dryer. My child loves it, and I am sure yours will too!
- Have fun with them. This is hard because our adult lives are so busy, and our kids’ interests change as they grow older. Putting a hold on our adult activity to do something with our child takes time and focus, but is so worth it. What better way to show our child that they are a priority to us and to build up the relationship?
- Compliment them. Children are often in settings at school or in sports where the focus is on improving what they are not good at. They need to hear when they are shining! Whether it is “I really like the shirt you picked today” or “I love to hear you sing,” kids need to know that we notice and affirm them just the way they are.
- Say “I love you.” We never outgrow the need to hear this, no matter how old we get. (Even moody teenagers need to hear it, whether they admit it or not!). Ours is a voice that speaks continually into our child’s life. Hearing our I-love-you’s should be a memory ingrained in their minds.
Children need to be shown love in order to show love
With some intentionality, we can use these simple tips to communicate our love to our children, and show them how to love others. No one else in the world is going to show love for your children like you do. Go show them some love today!
Your turn: What is your favorite way to show love to your kids?