With Valentine’s Day just around the corner our thoughts naturally turn to those we love and how we can express it. Here are 15 ways you can let your kids know you love them.
- Say, “I Love You.” There are no substitutes for hearing those three magic words. They can instill confidence, calm a troubled mind, and lift a sad heart.
- Read with them. Time spent together is always good but quality time is better. Entering a new world through stories can create a bond between you. It increases yourunderstanding of one another and gives you more topics of conversation. It also allows you to gage your child’s reaction to different situations as well as explore multiple outcomes in the safety net of imagination.
- Ask them how school went and listen totheir answers. You may have to prod a bit to get past the cursory, “fine” that they throw at you but asking follow-up questions (like –How’d your math test go?) can provide them with the opening they need to discuss concerns or celebrate accomplishments. As you listen and respond, they will know you care about what is going on when they aren’t with you.
- Watch a movie that they pick. It could be pure torture but letting them choose the movie – even one with talking animals or moving Legos – allows them to feel comfortable being themselves around you.
- Eat lunch with them at school. (If allowed.) Thankfully our school does allow parents to check in through the office and spend lunch with their child. I’ve gone in on birthdays and some holidays just to surprise my kids. They love having mom over for lunch.
- Check them out of school for lunch. Sometimes it’s just nice to have something special and a lunch date can be just that. If your child is struggling in school or just feeling down about things then taking them out for lunch is a good way to break up the day and let them know you understand.
- Try something new together. It doesn’t have to be rock climbing but it certainly could be. The important thing is to try something both of you haven’t done before. I took my first ski lesson on the same day as my kids. They progressed much faster than I did. I’ve had to work harder at displacing my fear and increasing my speed on the runs but it’s been worth the effort. Now we all look forward to family ski days. I could have taken lessons on my own but then we would have missed out on all the times we fell down and laughed at ourselves. Learning together has created an environment where we encourage effort.
- Buy their favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s not so much the ice cream that’s important but the factthat you know their favorite flavor. Taking time to notice the little things about a person lets them feel as though they are important to you.
- Do a service project. It could be as simple as making cookies to take to the neighbors or as involved as collecting coats for the local homeless shelter. Accomplishing good things together can create a positive bond between the two of you. When you’re in the planning stages, listen to their ideas and incorporate as many as you can. This will show them that you value their opinion and you believe they can make a difference in the world.
- Forgive them when they do something wrong. This is huge. Of course they should have consequences for their actions and many times you will be the one to set those up. This can make you look like the bad guy when in reality you’re teaching them one of life’s biggest lessons before they have to learn it the hard way. However, constantly holding their failures over their head doesn’t give them any room to view themselves in better light. Showing them how to forgive will not only let them know you love them unconditionally, it will set an example they can follow in their own families.
- Tell them about God and that He loves them. The world is going to beat your kids down. It will tell them they aren’t good enough, that they’ll never be good enough and that they should just stop trying. Knowing that there is a God in heaven, that He loves them, and that He hears their prayers can bring great comfort to your child throughout their whole life. One of the best gifts you could ever give your son or daughter is a knowledge of their divine potential.
- Hug them every time they come home. It doesn’t matter if they are 4 or 40, welcoming a child with open arms will provide a level of confidence and security they can draw on when out in the world.
- Kiss them goodbye every time they leave the house. A simple little kiss can mean the world to a kid. It doesn’t take long and it takes nothing away from you so pucker up and share the love.
- Make them follow through with their homework, chores, or on their sports team. As much as it stinks to be the heavy, holding a child accountable for their commitments, grades and work assignments tells them you see them as a person whose word means something and that you see their contribution to the group/team as important.
- Play! As often as you take on the parent roll remember to shrug it off and just have fun once in a while. I’ll never forget my son’s face when the coach was late for basketball practice and I organized a game of Lightning. Not only did I teach the kids how to play, I took my own turn shooting. The boys and I were soon laughing as they tried to knock me out of the rotation by sinking a shot faster than me. Play releases the tension that can build between an authority figure and a child and allows the two of you to have fun. So often parents have to say no to a child that they forget to find reasons to say yes.