When you have a child, it’s almost scary how many emotions you suddenly feel. You’re brimming and overflowing with affection for this little human being, and sometimes it feels like your heart’s about to explode. The fact is, you love and adore them but you also feel a lot of other things: worry, stress, fear, guilt, exhaustion, fascination, anxiety. Which of those do you want your child to feel the most from you?
I’m pretty sure it’s love.
If I guessed right, then read on for 20 ways to show your child you love them.
1. Play the “I love you more than” game. It goes something like this: “I love you more than gummy bears. I love you more than glitter. I love you more than all the stars” and so on. It’s a fun way to get them to smile and feel the important place they hold in your heart.
2. Listen to your child when they’re talking to you. Don’t try to multi-task. Take a minute to stop what you’re doing to face them, make eye contact, and hear them out. Make them feel loved by being accessible to them and prioritizing their communication.
3. Be willing to tell the same joke over and over (and over) again, even when you’re sick of it, because they asked you to. And because they think it’s just as funny, hearing it the 13th time as it was hearing it the first.
4.Tell them where you’re going. We always want to know where our children are, so how about keeping the in the loop about our whereabouts as well? Even for quick trips, you can tell them, “Mummy’s going to take a shower” or “I’m dropping something off at the neighbor’s.” Always end with, “I’ll be back soon.” When they know where you are, they feel more secure in waiting for your return. And most importantly, they won’t wonder if you just disappointed or “forgot” them.
5. Make special “medals” and backpack pins for them! Write “Mummy’s #1” “Daddy’s Champ” or “VIP” on them. These little affirmations are sure to make your little one feel like a true winner.
6. Make up stories and always make your kid the main character or hero.
7. Sing a song about them. Reinvent a classic song like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” but replace the lyrics about your child. Tips include singing about what you did together that day or your child’s favorite things.
8. Ask them to help you. My daughter loves putting the teabag into my cup or stirring my ice coffee. When I’m putting on a shirt, I’ll leave the lowest buttons for her to do. The reason why most kids love helping their parents is because it gives them ownership and a sense of accomplishment. They feel important!
9. Treat them as you would have wanted to be parented. Be polite and considerate. Repeat these phrases at every opportunity: “Please,” “Thank you,” “I love you,” and “I am so proud of you.”
10. Always let your baby touch you, no matter how sticky, drool-y, or sweaty it is. If your little one reaches for your hand, hold it. Every time. Even if you have to put something else down for a while.
11. Treat them to their favorite food or dessert. It doesn’t take a lot to make kids happy. The way to a kid’s heart is through her little round tummy! One of the surest ways that my child feels loved is when we treat her to a weekly scoop of ice cream.
12. Display their artwork. Every time my child brings artwork home from school, I say excitedly, “Let’s go put it up!” We have a special wall just for her paintings because we want her to feel like her creations are valued and appreciated. Guests always comment on her drawings, and my daughter positively beams.
13. When educating or disciplining your child, always tell them why. Otherwise they might be left in the dark and wonder what they did wrong, or think that you’re punishing them because you’re mad at them or you don’t like them. You’re showing respect and care by explaining the reason behind your disciplinary actions. Reassure them that you love them, even if you’re giving them a time-out.
14. Read to them. Better yet, incorporate reading into their bedtime routine. My husband and I take turns reading two books to our daughter before we turn off the lights. She cuddles right up to us and listens intently to the stories. An awesome bonus: Reading is a bonding experience that also promotes literacy!
15. Give them gentle body massages. Don’t forget to massage each of their teeny tiny toes, too!
16. Have a family dance party. Most kids love to dance. You know what they love even better? When you dance with them! Put on some happy tunes, clap and throw your hands in the air, roll your shoulders and sway your hips. Prance and pirouette around the living room. Hold your kid’s hand and watch them twirl!
17. Kiss their bruises and blow on scrapes and cuts. You don’t have to make a huge, dramatic deal out of small bumps or falls, especially if your kid is okay. Nevertheless, acknowledge that they were hurt by giving their boo-boos a bit of love.
18. Pile on the kisses, raspberries, hugs, and cuddles! Being affectionate toward your little one is one of the most natural ways to show that you’re smitten with them. Let your gestures demonstrate your overflowing love!
19. Smile when you see them. This is so simple and it seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it does require some effort. Like when you went to bed at 2:00 AM and your child wakes up and stands next to your bed at 6:00 AM. Before you even realize it, you let out a long groan. Imagine how your child must feel to be greeted by that! Even if you’re tired, make the effort to smile when they show up. Express that you’re happy to see them, no matter what.
20. Let kids be kids. If they make a mess when finger painting, if they insist on wearing mismatched socks, a crazy outfit and a butterfly hairclip, bow, flower, and headband all at once, if they dance in front of every store mirror…just remember that kids will be kids. And instead of scolding or trying to talk them out of doing something that clearly brings them joy, ask yourself, “Why not? What’s the harm? Is this really so bad?” Show love by saying yes as much as possible to doing what they love.
By Jenny Tai