Sometimes we get caught up in the business of life assuming that our children know we love them, and we forget to show them. Here are some fun ideas for ways to love your children:
Eat Family Dinner Together. This is one of the most important things you can do for your kids. I took many, many classes in college on family and child development and family dinner always came up. It is one of the best ways to build your child’s self-esteem, to have close family relationships, and by having meals together your children will be significantly less likely to get stuck with the wrong crowd or get into drugs.
Make family dinner fun and don’t over schedule your kids so much that dinner together is impossible. Have “themed” dinner nights such as “Taco Tuesdays”, “whatever’s leftover Wednesday”, or “Favorite Foods Fridays”. Make dinner a special time to ask your children deep or fun questions about their day, their interests, and their friends. Have special moments for “brag time” during dinner and build sibling relationships. If certain nights are just too busy during dinner time, schedule out a special time for snacks after school when you can all sit down together. I remember as a kid occasionally coming home to dinner on the table at 4 pm because our family had too many things going on that day and family dinner was too important to my mom to give up that day.
Know Your Child’s Love Language and Find Ways to Express it Often. Love your children by knowing their love language. Love languages don’t just pertain to marriages, children have special ways they like to be loved too. If you can, it would be really good to read the book specifically about love languages for kids. The book has awesome reviews, and parents have noticed a dramatic difference in their children once they learned what their love language was and different ways that they could meet their needs. If your child’s love language is touch, make time for extra cuddling, hugs, and kisses. If your child’s love language is time together, take time out of your day for some special one-on-one time. Do more to spend time with this child than you would with others. If your child’s love language is words, make sure you show you love them by stopping what you are doing to give eye contact, give praise, and talk about how they feel. Does your child feel loved through notes or gifts? Plan ahead and find ways to creative ways to show love in this way.
Take the time to be silly, to be messy, and to take in life’s simple pleasures. Love your children by taking time to be a kid yourself. Make up silly songs with your kids, play pretend, get on their level and play on the floor, build forts, get your fingers messy, talk in funny accents, and leave enough time in your schedule for star-gazing, looking for fun shapes in the clouds, and feeding the ducks. Have you ever noticed how easily children are amused? I once took a walk with my niece that would have taken the average adult two minutes. We were occupied for over 30 minutes because she had to stop and smell every flower, touch every plant, and wave at everyone that passed by. That’s what living is all about. Take time to be a kid again.
Say Yes as Often as You Can. Love your children by adding little joys to their life. There’s a difference between spoiling your children rotten and doing simple things that bring happiness into their life. Yes kids should have chores, and yes kids should have consequences for their choices but kids also deserve plenty of love, attention, and simple pleasures. As a kid I always wanted to ride on those little kiddie rides that they have at the grocery store that move when you put a quarter in them. I believe I only got to ride them once or twice in my lifetime which is great, but for the amount of joy that it brought me to ride one, that could have been a very simple pleasure for my mom to provide. I don’t blame her at all, in her mind I’m sure she considered it a waste of money. But to me it wasn’t a waste of money, to me it was the world. Once when I had my niece and nephew for a few days I took them to the dollar store and told them they could choose one item of their choice from the WHOLE store to buy. My nephew picked a little package that had Police handcuffs, a gun, and I believe a walkie-talkie. Sure it was a cheap toy and it was broken by the end of the day, but this kid was in heaven. He played pretend police and handcuffed his little sister for different offences ALL DAY long! I had no idea a dollar could be such a pay off! I have a personal rule that if I’m not running late for something and I pass a lemonade stand I ALWAYS stop. I always stop because I remember the pure delight I felt as a kid when someone finally pulled over and bought my lemonade. And I stop because no matter how tight my budget is, 50 cents isn’t going to break me (maybe that’s a bad way to think, but it brings fulfillment and warm fuzzies into my life). So next time your little one asks you to play ponies, cars or house–say yes. Even if it’s just for five minutes. Make it a game to see how many requests you can say yes to and always make sure it’s more than “no”.
Get to Know Their Friends and love them as your own. Love your children by loving their friends. It’s very rewarding to children when their parents have a good relationship with their friends and it’s also a good way for parents to know what’s going on in their kids lives. My best friend’s parents never wondered what their kids were up to because they were always at the house. All of their kid’s friends always wanted to hang out at their house because their parents were to friendly and fun. I still call my friend’s parent’s “mom” and “dad” because I honestly felt like they cared about me like their own kid. One of my neighbors said to me the other day, “it used to bug me that the neighbors were always eating at our house, but then I just learned to be grateful that they enjoyed being at our house and that I had enough money to feed them.” Not all of us have the financial stability to feed our kid’s friends all of the time, but we can still come up with creative ways to bond with our children’s friends.
Set Limits and Have a Sense of Humor. Love your children by setting limits. Studies have shown that children feel loved when their parents set limits and don’t give in to all their requests. They may give you a hard time about their curfew, but they feel more loved that the child whose parents don’t care when they come home. Just because you are setting limits doesn’t mean you have to do it in a harsh tone however. Make learning something to be praised (“I’m so excited for you to learn how to show respect to your sister! This is how I’m going to help you learn”). Some parents feel they have to raise their voice to let their children know they are serious. The opposite is true (more about this here). When children are being yelled at they are more focused on protecting themselves and staying mad at you. When you discipline with love and a sense of humor, children naturally are more likely to self-reflect and learn valuable lessons. Teach them that making a mistake is exciting because it brings the opportunity to learn and grow into the people we want to be.
Praise, Praise, Praise! More on this here, but find ways to express appreciation, adoration and respect to your child. Leave love notes on their pillow, sneak a letter into their lunch, and tell your husband and family all the reasons why you love this particular child. Leave no doubt in their mind that they are loved, appreciated, and cherished.
Discover their Talents and Put Them to Use. Love your children by discovering their talents. This is probably one of the things my own mother was best at. She had (and still has) a talent for making me and my siblings feel gifted. She always said things to me like “Oh Kristina! Will you please write a poem to go with the neighborhood Christmas gifts? No one has the same gift for rhyming like you do!” And if I came up for an excuse for why I couldn’t or why I didn’t have time she always made it seem like it wouldn’t be the same unless I did it. She would also say things like “Kristina, will you plan your sister’s birthday party? You are so fun and creative that I just don’t think it will be the same unless you are the planner,” or “Kristina! I need your handwriting! Please come write on this for me!” I always felt needed and felt like I had a unique place within my family. Still to this day she will call me to plan something for her, or get a good deal, etc. Every kid comes with their own unique personality and it is important to help them discover the different ways that they can positively contribute to the world around them.
Surprise! Find fun ways to shock them with your love. Love your children with surprises! Do something they wouldn’t expect. If you always say no to pop tarts for breakfast, break them out one morning in celebration of something. Sure they aren’t the healthiest thing, but one morning isn’t going to send the body into complete shock (hopefully), and the reaction on their face will be well worth it. Try to get that look on their face as often as you can. Do you never order anything off the dollar menu? One day just say, “okay! Order whatever you want!” Are you strict about school absences and tardinesss? One day check your child out of school for an hour and go do something fun (probably shouldn’t make a habit out of this one, but I would have been shocked out of my mind if my mom ever showed up at school and checked me out for something other than a dentist appointment)!
Speaking of surprises, you HAVE to watch this adorable video clip! It totally made me cry. Chances are you have already seen it since I seem to be the last one to view the latest YouTube videos, but if you haven’t watched it, please do.
What are some fun ways that you like to show love to your children?
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