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In Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, Dr. Kevin Leman discusses 6 tips for showing your children you love them.
- See Your Children As God Sees Them: Children are a blessing in our lives. Yes, they are often challenging. Yes, they often bring us the greatest fatigue and frustration we have ever known. Conversely, they bring us the greatest joy. Have you ever loved anyone with such ease? Your child is a child of God. Keep that eternal perspective in mind when your 2 year old tells you, “No! I do it myself!”
- Childlike Attitude: Leman says to not take yourself too seriously. Play with your children. I am very familiar with the desire to get things done. I am task oriented and a work-before-play sort of gal. Those aren’t bad qualities, but the reality is that there will always be work. No matter how many times you do the dishes, they are going to get dirty again. I am not saying we should let things go, but we can relax. We can take time with our children. After we eat lunch, my children go outside to play. I always want to clean up the kitchen before joining them. A few days ago, I decided I would put away the perishables and then go play with them. We had a lot of fun and the kitchen didn’t complain at all about being dirty a couple of extra hours. My little sister is so great with kids. Kids love her because she gets down and plays with them, and she enjoys it! She isn’t sitting there thinking of all the other, more important things she can be doing. She is just enjoying her time playing with the kids. She has fun. I have never met a child that didn’t love my little sister.
- Direct Eye Contact: I of course have to add my cultural caveat here. If direct eye contact isn’t appropriate in your culture, insert a culturally appropriate item here. For the average person living in the USA, eye contact is very important to show your interest. This might sound easy, but it gets to be challenging. Your child will approach you while you are working on something and want to talk. You will have to tell yourself to look at your child and give him your attention. Eye contact is an important non-verbal cue that tells your listener that you are interested and engaged in the conversation.
- Physically Express Love: Give hugs and kisses. Cuddle as your read your bedtime stories. Pat the back when he has done something right. Have fun and tickle. Show your child physical affection.
- Be A Good Listener: Remember the eye contact. Be prepared to listen to the same thing over and over. Respond to what they are saying, and try to be more creative than, “Really?” “Mmmm.” “Uh-huh.” For young children, it helps to repeat back what they just said. It makes them happy to see that they can communicate to you. Don’t interrupt and don’t habitually be too busy for your child.
- Spend Time: Time spent together doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be sweeping the kitchen floor, going for a walk, praying, eating, etc. When I was pregnant with McKenna, I was sick a lot. I had to wake up before Brayden and Kaitlyn in order to eat breakfast before I fed them. They didn’t like it when I didn’t eat with them. At first I tried to make my time useful by doing the dishes while they ate, but I found they were much happier if I sat at the table with them while they ate food and talked with them. I am reminded of a country song that talks about a father being too busy for his son. Eventually, the father is old and wants to spend time with his son, who is now too busy for him. Your children are only highly interested in your time for so long. Then they start being highly interested in friends and other activities. Take advantage of the time you have while they really want to be with you. You can then build a bond and set a precedent. You can’t expect your teenager to sit and eat meals with the family if you haven’t done so in the past (not to say you can’t start new traditions or habits, but it will be harder).
You are going to want your child to grow up feeling loved and grow up feeling comfortable spending time and talking with you. These six tips can help you show love to your child–though it definitely isn’t an exhaustive list. It is just a good starting point 🙂
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