As parents, we demonstrate love to our children daily. We give hugs, kiss boo-boos, wipe noises, clean up messes…and so much more! Although these day-to-day acts of love are so very important, sometimes it speaks volumes more when we are intentional about the way we show love to our children.
I set out to create a list of 14 ways we can demonstrate love to our child(ren) and intended on focusing on one each day of February (leading up to Valentines Day). Unfortunately, the sickness and death of our family dog last week along with a home improvement project kept me from sharing this on February 1st (as I originally intended).
Nevertheless, here are 14 Tangible Ways to Demonstrate Love to Your Child…
1. Tell him…all the time! I am convinced that there is no such thing as telling our kids we love them too much! Our children need to hear the words “I love you” throughout the day in a variety of different situations (especially after disciplining). If you have a child with “Words of Affirmation” as their primary love language, this is especially important.
2. Take each child out on a special date. If you have multiple children in your home, spending occasional one-on-one time with each child is crucial to developing a strong bond. There are conversations that can happen between the two of you that might not otherwise happen with the entire family. Unfortunately, this simply won’t happen unless we schedule it. Make an effort to take each child out on a special date once a month. It doesn’t have to be fancy or costly–this could be going to the park, browsing the book store, or getting an ice cream cone.
3. Give lots of hugs and kisses. This comes naturally for me because I am a very affectionate person…but I know it doesn’t always come easily for others. Studies have shown that children who are hugged, kissed, and nurtured are far more confident later in life than their un-cuddled peers. Even if you have adult children, be sure to hug them regularly!
4. Smile. Sometimes a simple smile can mean so much more than words. A warm smile conveys love, acceptance, affection, and contentment. When I smile into the faces of my sons, they beam. There is no greater feeling than seeing their beaming faces smile back at me.
5. Write love notes. If your child goes to school and packs a lunch, slip a love note in there every now and then just to show him you are thinking of him. If you homeschool or your child isn’t yet in school, leave a note for him on his bed and read it aloud to him when he finds it.
6. Fix his favorite meal or snack. After all, the quickest way to a child’s heart is through his stomach, right?!?! Oh wait, that’s a man. Surely the same principle applies! Preparing a meal or snack for someone is an intentional way of showing love.
All the “men” in my house love these cherry tarts!
7. Esteem him in front of others. My children are getting to the ages where they pay attention to the things I say to others while in conversation, whether it is in person or over the phone. Telling a friend or family member (or even a stranger) how much I love and appreciate my children while they’re in earshot is a great way to make them feel loved and esteemed. Parents of teenagers, take this idea with a grain of salt…you don’t want to go over the top and embarrass your child. :)
8. Pray for him. Bringing your child before the Father in prayer is a crucial part of parenting. Although you might not always pray for your child in front of him, make a conscious effort to do this every now and then. I have found that praying each child’s scripture I have selected for the year is a great way to do this aloud (and also a great way for him to learn the verse).
9. Take time to play. Our kids don’t need to be wildly entertained…they just need our undivided attention every now and then. Although I don’t think it is my job to entertain my kids 24/7, one way that I can show my child how much I love him is to get down on the floor and PLAY with him! Nothing fancy…just uninterrupted time together playing a board game or building towers with blocks!
10. Read to him. Just like to taking time to play with your child, taking time to read to him shows that you desire to spend time with him. Reading aloud to my boys is typically my favorite activity of the day (and it’s not just because it’s one of the only times they sit still)! :) Curling up on a chair and immersing yourself in a story together is a great time to bond…and it’s also super important for their language development and reading abilities!
11. Keep a journal to give him as an adult. When I first found out I was pregnant with each of my boys, I began writing letters to them in a journal. At birthdays, major milestones, and holidays, I still write in their journals rather than giving individual cards. I hope this will be a treasured record for each child in years to come, showing just how much their mother loved and prayed for them!
12. Give him responsibility. This one might seem a little backwards, but it is my belief that young children crave responsibility and independence. Giving your child jobs to do around the house tells him that you think he is capable of being a contributing member of the family. Setting expectations high, even for younger children, is a great way to demonstrate love (and teach a little responsibility to boot)!
13. Don’t rush the bedtime routine. By the time bedtime rolls around, I am usually done for the day. I am tired. I am ready to relax. I just need a little down time. But I’ve found when I rush the bedtime routine, I miss out on precious time with each of my boys. As children wind down for the night, they seem to be more open about discussing their day and much more affectionate…or perhaps they just want to delay going to bed! Either way, I’ve found that when I embrace bedtime and do not try to rush it, I end up having some amazing bonding time with each child. Cuddling for an extra few minutes is totally worth it!
14. Give a thoughtful gift every now and then…just because! Giving gifts just because (and not when it is a birthday or holiday) speaks volumes of love to the receiver. The gift being given is out of pure thoughtfulness of the receiver (not out of obligation). Although we try to keep Christmas and birthdays relatively low-key in our house in terms of gifts, I love being able to pick up something for each member of my family every now and then just because I love them. They are never extravagant or excessive…just something I think my child or husband might enjoy. I want to acknowledge that gift-giving (and receiving) is a way I can speak my child’s love language without a sense of entitlement or expectation.
FYI: I used the male pronoun to keep from constantly writing he/she, his/her…but each of these applies to daughters as well. :)
What are some tangible ways that you demonstrate love to your child???