Let’s be real: raising kids is a lot of work. And sometimes it feels like we're in constant motion--running around, making sure they have a healthy lunch, that their shoes are tied, that they're doing well in school, that they are healthy and safe, plus so many other things we do every day as parents. It goes without saying that we love our kids and always want them to feel loved, but in our everyday life, it can be easy to get too busy to show that love. We may put things aside that our children need from us, or we do them less often. And whether we admit it or not, we often strive for perfection in our kids, but that’s unrealistic and can even cause harm. That is why we have created a list of ways you can express love for your child and create a healthy and beautiful relationship that every child and parent wants!
According to child psychologist Dr. Robert Myers, "Children who feel important and worthy have higher self-esteem, a more positive outlook on life, and healthier relationships. These children tend to have an easier time handling conflict, are more respectful of others and are generally more well-rounded individuals."
Showing your child that you love them doesn't have to be complicated. Children are eager to accept love, and even small tokens of affection can have a huge impact on them. Here is a list of 18 ways you can make your little one feel extra loved:
1. Make One-on-One Time a Priority
Read a book together, play a game with just them, sign up for a Mommy & Me class, make a craft with them, or go eat somewhere that they like for a little lunch date. The ideas are truly endless. Finding time to hang out with just your kid will strengthen your relationship and let them know that they are a priority in your life. I love doing this with each of my kids!
2. Listen To and Believe Your Child
One way you can show your child that they are important to you is by letting them know and feel that you are interested in their thoughts. Look them in the eye and show you care about what they are saying. Also, if they're coming to you in confidence with anything of concern, whether big or small, believe them. No matter what your personal opinions are, they need to know they can come to you any time, that they can trust you, and that they don't need to be scared of what you will say.
3. Be Their Biggest Supporter
Show enthusiasm in what they’re talking about, what they’re doing, or what they’re working on. Make it clear to them how excited you are to see them when you get home from work or pick them up from school. Attend their sporting events, recitals, and other performances. Showing support is a crucial way to communicate to your child that you love and care about them.
4. Hug, Kiss, and Cuddle Them Often
It's very easy to do this when your kid is really little because all they want to do is cuddle and embrace you--and you can't help but give your baby a kiss. But it seems that as they get older, it becomes harder to show affection to each other, especially when they are teens. But trust me, they still need it! Give them a hug before they leave for school. Ask to hold their hand when you're out and about. Cuddle with them as you watch a movie together. Give them a kiss before bed. There's power in physical touch and physical reassurance.
5. Create Traditions
Traditions don't have to be elaborate or expensive. A tradition can be a special handshake or a certain games you play together. This also doesn't have to be something you do with just one child--what better way to share and spread love than to involve the whole family and do this together?
6. Do Small Things
Put a note in their lunch box telling them you love them, or draw them something cute or funny that shows your care for them. Give a high five when they do something good, dance or sing with them, tell them a favorite memory you have of them--whatever small and simple thing you think will be appreciated.
7. Cook Together
Yes, this can definitely be messy when they are young (know it will get less chaotic as they grow), but involve them in cooking or baking with you. (Always be careful with anything hot.) This activity together really can connect you and help them learn a life skill in the process!
8. Proudly Display Their Artwork at Home
Our kids are truly little artists, and they get so proud of their work because of how it looks, what it means, and the time it took for them to create it. So proudly save or show off their artwork! I have given each of my kids their own bins filled with files (labeled by age/grade) where we can keep their work, and I like to hang up the most precious items that I want to always remember. Hang it on the fridge for everyone to see. Just make sure if you're "putting it away" that you don't let them see, because that's definitely the opposite of what we're going for.
9. Play with Your Child
Sure, this can come naturally when they're babies and toddlers, but even as they grow, get on the floor with your child to work on a craft or building blocks together. Play dress up together, really dive into their world of imagination. I'm not saying you need to do this for hours and hours, but even ten minutes of playtime together will show them that parents can have fun, too, and that you love interacting with them in this way.
10. Include Them in Discussions and Important Decisions
Ask what your child's opinions are on things and respect their ideas. You don’t have to agree with them on everything; the important part is to make them feel heard. Knowing that they, too, have a say in important decisions increases their feeling of belonging and security.
11. Say "I Love You"
Silly, I know, to even mention this one, because even though we feel it and we show it, it's also important to say it! It's the easiest and most powerful thing we can do. You can even tell them how lucky you are to be their mom or dad and how much you mean to them. Words have a lot of power!
12. Give Them Your Undivided Attention
Yes, it can be hard to do this, especially if you have more than one child. But this can also become a learning opportunity. Show your kids that we need to take turns when one of them has something to say. Look them in the eye when you're speaking to them. Put your phone down and show them your genuine interest when they have something to tell you. This will teach them to extend the same courtesy to others as well.
13. Give Compliments and Remind Them of Their Strengths
Being a parent can be stressful, and sometimes when life feels like too much, it can be easy to criticize--especially our kids. Take a breath when things are stressful, and make it a goal to remind your kid of their strengths, especially when they're feeling low. Compliment when they are well-behaved, when they get a good grade, when they are nice to their siblings, or when they apologize. Complimenting them builds resilience and helps them with their self-esteem as well.
14. Be Involved in Their Life
If you can, consider volunteering at your child's school. Ask them regularly how school is going, remember what they told you about yesterday and follow up, notice who they play or hang out with, and what sports or hobbies they want to try. Encourage them to try things they show interest in. Ask questions about what went well during their day and what didn't. This shows them that you are interested in their life--the bad, the good, everything in between.
15. Thank Them
Remember how our parents told us to say thank you? Well, we need to carry that same advice through in adulthood, and especially as parents. When your child does something, whether it's small or big, thank them. It shows your appreciation and sets a good example for them as well.
16. Teach Them
17. Speak Kindly
18. Acknowledge When You're Wrong
A few other ideas to show your kids you love them:
- Support them even when they make a mistake
- Be patient with them
- Respect their space and their feelings
- Laugh with them
"Love and security assures them they don't need to worry about adult-sized problems and it gives them the freedom to just be kids," says Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, host of the Mentally Strong People podcast, and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do. "When kids feel secure and loved, they are free to focus on other things—like learning and creativity."
Some of these may sound a little obvious, that these things should just come naturally to a parent. But we can all use a little reminder now and then. You also don't need to do every single thing on this list every single day in order to be a good parent! But I hope this will give you some ideas of what you can do to strengthen your relationship with your child.
Make your efforts unique to each child. And smother them in endless love and care! Remember, love is a noun, but it also is a verb. Our kids will remember the time we spent with them to know their value and to really see who they are--our miracles! Even small efforts can make your relationship with your child blossom!
Here's to all those beautiful memories you've made and are about to make!
What ideas do you have to show your child you love and care about them? Leave us a comment!