Originally published on Motherly
By Colleen Temple
“Actions speak louder than words.” How many times have you heard that in your life?
Probably more than you can count.
And we love our children, right? Like to-the-moon-and-back-then-up-to-the-moon-again-and-back-once-more times a million. Aching, overflowing, unconditional, real love.
And as parents, all we want to do is make sure they feel safe, secure and most importantly — loved.
So how can we do that — aside from telling them we love them? How can we put our love into action — every day, in simple, doable ways?
Here are 15 easy ways to show your children you love them:
1. Look them in the eyes.
When they are trying to talk to you, or you’re trying to tell them something—stop what you’re doing, focus on them, get on their level and look them in the eyes. Really see them. Give them your full attention as much as you can.
2. Make physical contact.
Hug them, high five them, cuddle with them, hold their hand, sit on the couch with them, lay with them. Be near them. Let them know you are there. Let them share their affection with you. Their hugs and kisses are the best!
3. Compliment them.
Let them know they’re doing a good job with something. Let them know how awesome they are. Be specific with your praise. Give compliments throughout the day. Build up their self-confidence and teach them to love themselves. That’s first taught at home.
4. Thank them.
Let them know you appreciate it when they listen to you, when they’re being nice to their sibling, when they’ve apologized for something. Thank them for being the great kid that they are. Help them feel validated and good about themselves.
5. Sit and read with them.
Spend quality reading time together. Let them pick any book they’d like. Chat about the story as you go. Ask them who their favorite character is or what they liked best. Share what you liked, too. Always look for opportunities to get to know each other better.
6. Make bedtime special time.
Recap the day together before they go to sleep. Ask them what their favorite part of their day was. Share yours. Connect before they head off to dreamland. Small engagements like this will let your children know that they can always talk to you.
7. Prioritize one-on-one time.
If you have more than one child, be mindful of scheduling one-on-one time once in awhile with each child. Time all together is great, but that one-on-one time is hard to come by. This will likely range anywhere from planning a special outing together to just running to the store quick with you. But, remember, no matter what—whether it’s going to the dry cleaners or going to the zoo — special time alone with mom rules!
8. Let them cook with you.
“Big kid” tasks like this make them feel special and important. I know it can be hard when you’re rushing to throw something together—but try to give them anything to do (washing vegetables, stirring the bowl, etc.) in order to help them contribute to the meal. It may seem small, but it’s big to them.
9. Teach them.
Introduce something new to them. Tell them about your job. If they seem interested in dinosaurs, take a book out of the library to learn about them together. Talk about different birds or trees you see on a walk together. There are teaching opportunities everywhere, we just have to be aware of them.
10. Do something out of the ordinary.
Is there something you often say ‘no’ to that you can say ‘yes’ to here and there? Maybe you don’t always let them snuggle in your bed, but today you will. Or maybe you don’t usually give them a treat after dinner, but on Friday’s you do. Be thoughtful about small ways to surprise them and brighten their days.
11. Get excited.
Show enthusiasm in what they’re talking about, what they’re doing, what they’re working on. Show them how excited you are to see them when you get home from work. Let them feel your love.
12. Make up a game together.
Tap into their imagination. Get creative together. Spending time like this is a great, simple way to bond with one another. Plus, if you remember how to play the game — you can add this activity to your ‘entertainment toolbox’ to pull from later!
13. Ask them to tell you a story.
Giving them control of a story — while they also have your full, undivided attention — is like a dream come true for children. They can say what they want, choose the characters, make believe — all while watching your eyes light up at all the right moments...it’s pretty magical and enjoyable to watch.
14. Encourage them.
Let them dream. Listen to their dreams. Encourage them to work toward pursuing them. I mean, right now, this may mean they dream of being a space-monkey-astronaut or a fairy princess-paleontologist... but one day it will be a dream of getting into NYU or writing a book. And you know what? They’ll believe they can achieve those, because you’ve always encouraged them to dream and set goals.
15. Create traditions.
And habits. And routines. Predictability (with spontaneity here and there, of course!) will help your child feel loved and cared for. Special family traditions create memories that will last a lifetime — they are precious and invaluable. Your children will be so happy you started them.
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