“All a baby needs is love… and diapers!
Of course, my brother’s wise words aren’t entirely true, but they encapsulate the message of this post: showing your child that she or he is loved, valued, respected and accepted by YOU is the most important part of parenting.
When a child knows these to be unequivocally true, he or she will grow self-worth and confidence. Your child will be resilient. Your child will naturally love her- or himself, and be better capable of giving love to, and receiving love from, others.
No one can be perfect all the time – as I know from personal experience – so just pick one of these to consciously do each day. Even a few minutes of true focus and attention for your child will affirm your love.
Here are 8 Simple Ways to Make Your Child Feel Loved:
- Listen to your child. Now, there are SO many times that I have EVERYTHING on my mind and an INFINITE list of tasks to accomplish, and I simply can’t listen to every detail that my son rails me with from his last session of Minecraft. I am NOT interested in Minecraft, and I am focused on other things. However, I recognize that I am usually the first person my son bounces his ideas off. I know that when we communicate, he is learning how to communicate with others, and that he will use these skills (or hang-ups and insecurities) throughout his lifetime. The point is that you, the parent, have a major impact on the identity formation of your child. Listening to his or her ideas about interests and experiences will show your child that you love, respect, and value what she or he has to say. As your child matures, she or he will feel confident that his ideas have worth, and WILL BE MORE COMFORTABLE WITH SHARING HIMSELF WITH THE WORLD.
- Talk to your child. Issuing orders and meting out punishments don’t necessarily count! This way of showing love follows naturally from the previous item. IN THE WORDS OF MY PRETEEN NIECE, not saying “Mmmmm, mmmhhhhmmm, uh huh,” makes a kid feel loved. (From the mouth of babes!) Plus, if you really hear your child, I guarantee you’ll want to talk back! Responding to your child’s questions and comments on life can stop a completely confused interpretation of reality in its tracks, or help nourish a beautifully profound perspective on life.
- Maintain boundaries. Your child needs DISCIPLINE. Maintaining a set of reasonable rules shows your child that you care about what and how your child acts, and that you are paying attention to her or him.
- Spend QUALITY time with your child. It doesn’t have to be exciting or EPIC – although it could be! – as long as you are engaged with and focused on your child. It doesn’t even need to be a long time. You could read a book together or take a walk. Maybe your child needs help with homework, or needs help sorting out a conflict with a peer. Perhaps you have an ongoing project to work on together or a shared responsibility to carry out. As long as you and your child are interacting meaningfully for a little while on a regular basis.
- Include your child in your daily routine. Pick your battles! With small children, this can double or triple the amount of time a simple chore or activity takes to accomplish. However, taking care of the household and each other TOGETHER teaches valuable lessons to your child. Your child will become amazingly self-sufficient and capable. Eventually, your child will have household and academic responsibilities to manage, so developing healthy skills now is invaluable. Washing dishes or cooking together, watering the garden or taking out the dumpster, tidying or dusting together: these activities develop lifelong skills. Not to mention, you can double up on the love and have some great conversations while you work together!
- Give your child RESPONSIBILITY. It is important for your child to learn to be responsible for her- or himself, and in turn his family, friends, community and society at large. If your child has siblings, you already have the possibility of a built-in hierarchy of responsibility! Allow an older sibling to truly be in charge of a younger sibling in some capacity. Another way to teach responsibility is to give your child meaningful chores that are integral to the running of the household and family. Show your child that you trust her or him enough to rely on him or her for important, and appropriate, of course, tasks.
- Touch! Your child needs loves and snuggles! Even grumpy teens need to be poked and prodded once and a while. 😉 Teaching your child appropriate forms of physically displaying affection will help your child feel comfortable with his or her body, and will lay the foundation for healthy physical relationships in the future.
- Verbalize your love. Last, but not least, remember to actually TELL your child how proud and amazed you are by him or her. Especially when things get tough, say and show often that your love is unconditional and everlasting.
Remember, IT IS OKAY for you to forget these ways of demonstrating love now and then. Day-to-day stress can distract us and wear us out. Just remember to look in your child’s eyes everyday in order to listen and to communicate your love. IT’LL BE ENOUGH!