Do your kids know you love them? Do you show your children love daily? When money is tight and stress is plentiful, cultivating loving family relationships become less of a priority. Working parents or – due to the current state of our economy – parents seeking work are often so overwhelmed with everyday life that they barely have time to show their children love.
Some parents have all the time in the world, yet they still have trouble displaying loving gestures toward their children. Perhaps because of the lack of love in their own upbringing, they find it difficult to show affection to those near and dear. Love should be expressed to children explicitly and often. There is such a lack of love in this world that children must get it from home. With war, community violence, and domestic violence all around, children should never doubt that they are truly loved. Below are some of the basic but most forgotten ways we can show our children we love them.
A smile is a welcoming and warm cue to which every child should be privy. Just think about when others smile at you. It makes you feel as if they were looking forward to seeing you and being in your presence, which is how we want our children to feel. Think about your most recent interactions with your child. Were you smiling? If you have been worried or upset lately, you may not be conveying the feelings of love you intend. Instead, brighten you and your child’s day with a smile. You will be surprised at how much it helps.
Say, ‘I love you.’
These words are too powerful to let sit in your heart. I love you is the expression most people find hard to divulge, and it is often the one most people regret never saying. Don’t ever regret not saying it to your child. I grew up in a home where I love you was often said. The words have such a strong presence in my vocabulary that I almost feel guilty not saying it. I believe the words, I love you, are what make most arguments between family members seem trivial, because just moments before my sister stained my favorite sweater, she told me she loved me, and love seems so much more sustainable than an Argyle cotton V-neck.
We often go out of our way to tell our children what they need to do to be successful-go to school, study hard, be responsible. Take some time telling your child how they are already successful. Tell them what they are doing right right now for a change. Compliments are encouraging and one of the least expensive forms of praise. They instantly put smiles on children’s faces and promote positive behavior. So substitute a criticism for a compliment this month and see the affect it has on your child and his behavior.
Young children need affection. The warmth of human contact is a need for young children’s healthy emotional development. Older children thrive off of physical contact as well. There is something about a hug that makes it okay to cry, share more information than was intended, and be real. If you find that your child seems withdrawn lately, try hugging them. When you ask them questions to which they claim they don’t know the answer, see if a hug makes it easier to recall. Hugs often help, so use them in your repertoire of loving gestures.
Many of my students’ parents have a ritual that they perform with their children before the school day begins: they pray together. Whether it is at the breakfast table or in the car, adults are putting prayer into their parenting practices. Praising the divine and asking for guidance and strength for you and your child can prove to be an important way of showing love, especially during times of strife. Often, when our children have disobeyed one of our rules, we tend to show them more “tough love” or withdraw loving gestures altogether. However, when you pray daily, with and for each other, it is hard to stay angry with your child, and it is hard for your child to think you don’t believe in them and their ability to do better.
This February and the months to come, use the tips above to show your child you love them. You will be excited to feel just how much they love you back.