It’s often said that love isn’t just a noun … it’s also a verb. We can tell people that we love them, but it’s also important to show them how we feel – sometimes actions speak louder than words! So with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought the timing was right to compile a list of 14 (yes, as in February 14) simple ways you can demonstrate to your children how very loved they are.
# 1 – Listen Attentively
It’s tempting to try to carry on a conversation with your child while you’re doing other things – prepping for dinner, paying bills, watching a movie. But if those other things are distracting you from what your child is saying, challenge yourself to stop, look them in the eye, and offer your undivided attention.
# 2 – A Loving Touch
A hug, a high-five, a kiss on the cheek … all ways to say “I love you” without uttering a word. Research shows that physical touch is foundational to bonding, communication, and even the physical health of children. Bonus: You get to enjoy it too!
# 3 – Say “Yes” Whenever Possible
Do you ever feel like the most frequently-used word in your parent vocabulary is NO? “Mom, will you read this book to me?”, “Dad, can we shoot some hoops?” If your immediate inclination is to shut something down, stop and take stock of the situation. This doesn’t mean that you need to be at your child’s beck and call. But it does mean that your automatic default shouldn’t be to respond in the negative.
# 4 – Pen a Love Letter
You don’t have to be a poet laureate to write something which is meaningful to your child. Let them know why they’re so special to you (and to others), adding a few pictures if you’d like. Drop your card or letter in the mail to make it extra special.
# 5 – Surprise!
It’s easy to be so beholden to our daily schedules that we can fall into a rut. That’s why it’s important to shake things up from time to time. Instead of going home right after school, take your child out for some ice cream. Instead of preparing a dinner consisting of the healthiest of ingredients, break the mold and serve up some “fun” foods – like waffles slathered in syrup and whipped cream.
# 6 – Laugh Until Your Belly Aches
Kids are fun at heart, so why not meet them where they are? Tell funny stories, sing silly songs, dance with abandon. Whether planned or spontaneous, look for opportunities to infuse the atmosphere with joyful play. Being silly is seriously good for the soul.
# 7 – The Power of a “Pet Name”
It may be silly, sappy, or sometimes annoying … but a pet name is always a term of endearment. You can help your child get on board by letting them help you pick their own name. Want to make it super special? Jealously guard the name so YOU are the only one who gets to use it.
# 8 – Snuggle + Movie
Does anything conjure up feelings of love and comfort more than cuddling up together on the couch – fireplace ablazing, the smell of popcorn in the air and, of course … watching your child’s favorite movie? Carve out some to make this a special memory for your child. You won’t regret it.
# 9 – Validate + Value
As a parent, it’s always important to listen to your child. But that’s just part of the equation. You also need to make sure that your child understands that they are being heard. This is what allows them to feel accepted, safe, and respected. Start with: “What I hear you saying is …” and then give them permission to either correct or confirm your understanding. Make sure they know that you’re genuinely concerned about their feelings.
# 10 – Share a Special Routine
Part of feeling loved is to feel “special” to someone. Give your child that special feeling by forging a routine that is specific to the two of you. Perhaps it’s letting them pick what’s on the dinner menu once a week. Maybe it’s letting them choose the movie you watch on family film night. Or maybe it’s deciding what the two of you should do for a “mom/dad – child” activity each month.
# 11- Build Them Up
Boosting your child’s understanding of their unique and wonderful qualities is important in building a foundation for their self-image. Make an effort to call out the special things you see in them. Be authentic in your praise, complimenting them for the things that make them who they are as a person. This will also give you space to gently and lovingly encourage them in areas where they have opportunity to work on as a person.
# 12 – Frame a Pic
Print out a picture which will remind your child of a special time (Christmas, a birthday) or a favorite activity (dancing, soccer), and write a message on the back – explaining why the photo is so meaningful to you. Let your child pick out a frame that they like and allow them to decide where to place this treasure in your home.
# 13 – Share a Special Memory
Children can be more sentimental than we sometimes think. Share a treasured story from the past that will touch their heart in a special way. Perhaps it’s a tender remembrance like bringing a puppy home for the first time or a funny anecdote that evokes wild laughter. Find something from the past that will resonate with your child and remind them of the shared love your family has.
# 14 – Just Have Fun!
Celebrate the beautiful simplicity of having FUN with your child. This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be contemplative. Spend some time thinking about ways you can create activities that are centered around your child’s unique personality and interests. Are they inspired by music? Love the outdoors? Thrive through athletics? Tap into those pleasure points to share meaningful encounters which allow you to meet them where their heart beats.
What are some of the special ways you demonstrate love to your children? Let us know by leaving a comment below.