The task to show love to your children every day can sometimes be easy and other times be one of the hardest things you will do as a parent. Kids are cute and wonderful when they are lovable and cooperative, but when they’re ornery and resistant, you may be tempted to ship them off to relatives until they have grown out of their difficult phase.
Whether or not you have “easy” or “difficult” children, there is one thing that they BOTH need: to know they are loved regardless of their behavior. You could stick with saying a simple “I love you” every day—which by itself is enough—or you could branch out and try expressing your love in different and fun ways.
Here are some ideas to show love to your children in simple ways because let’s be honest, your actions will speak louder than your words.
Schedule alone time with each child.
Family time is great, but one-on-one time with each child is a treasure. This can be going on a special outing or just riding together to do an errand. Look for those opportunities to get alone with your child, even if just for a few minutes.
Show physical love.
Even if physical touch is not your child’s love language, they still need to feel it. Little ones love cuddling, but you will have to work harder for it as they grow up. Hug them, high five them, cuddle with them if they let you, hold their hand, sit on the couch with them, or just be near them. As they get older, you may be lucky to get a hug, but don’t ever stop trying.
Listen with your eyes.
Parents love to multi-task in an attempt to be efficient with their time. But efficiency will not help you form bonds with your child. When they are talking to you, or you’re talking to them—stop what you’re doing, focus on them, and look them in the eyes. As often as you can, give them your undivided attention.
Notice something good that they’ve done.
Pay attention to the good that they do and mention it to them. Be specific and sincere. Kids can sniff out empty flattery.
Thank them for doing their chores or being nice to a grumpy sibling or for when they apologize for something. This helps them feel validated, just as parents like to know they are appreciated.
Have a special bedtime routine.
Whether it’s a bedtime story, a special hug, or just a few minutes of conversation about their day, make bedtime feel special, not just you banishing them to their beds.
Surprise them by saying “yes” to something you often say “no” to, like eating ice cream before dinner or staying up a little later for no reason. These little surprises can brighten their day.
Let your hair down every now and then. Let your kids see you be silly; whether it’s dancing around the house or playing dress-up with them, silly-ness has a way of breaking down barriers and strengthening bonds with your children.
Be the parent.
Your child does not need a buddy all day or for you to be silly all the time. There is a time for that parenting strategy, but there is also a time for you to simply be the parent, to say no when it needs to be said and to enforce rules that have been set. This is a strong and powerful way to love your children, even if they don’t think it feels like love.
Let them choose.
There are times when you must make the choices of course, but when you can, let your child choose–what to have for dinner, what game to play, what show to watch, what book to read. Every now and then, let them choose something that you normally don’t let them choose, like what time they go to bed or what they want to do after school instead of chores or homework.
On top of these 10 ways to show love to your children, continue to say “I love you” often, even if you think “my child already knows that I love them.” They can never hear that too often.