It’s no secret that children thrive best when they feel secure in a family’s love. Knowing this, we make it a point to give them frequent kisses and snuggles. We may say “Love you!” when hanging up the phone, or type a reminder when texting with them (before adding heart icons!).
Clearly, we want to be sure our kids know how much we love them. So what else can we do to be sure they really feel our love? There are lots of option, but often we are simply too busy to think of them.
To help you out, we’ve collected 50 ways you can show your love to children—through actions and through words.
Each of these is free and easy. And they are more powerful than you may know.
If you make it a habit to incorporate some of these ideas into your daily routine, your young one is sure to pick up on it. Mix things up and find your favorites, the ones that you will turn to again and again.
Meanwhile, enjoy sharing the love!
Things to do and things to say to show kids your love
- Show lots of patience as you encourage her to do things for herself.
- Give happy touches often—a hug, a high-five or fist bump, a kiss on the cheek, a hand on the shoulder, a back rub, snuggling on the couch. (Kids are different when it comes to touch, so keep an eye out to see what is most enjoyed—or not.)
- When you can, offer your child choices. It shows trust, and builds confidence.
- On a cold day, put a comfy throw-blanket in the dryer and warm it up, then wrap your child in it.
- Provide structure and be a real parent, don’t try to be a free-for-all “friend.” Steady gentle discipline is a sign of love.
- Put your phone down. Realize that talking to your child while staring at a screen doesn’t count as giving attention.
- Proudly display or wear whatever little items he makes or creates for you.
- Prepare a grocery list together and then go shopping.
- Send a surprise coloring or activity book in the mail addressed to your child, with a little note from you.
- Ask frequently about her friends to show your interest. It will also help you learn how she sees her situation. (Is there a sign that friends are lacking?)
- Let him “overhear” you saying something nice about him to a teacher, relative, or friend. Don’t go overboard with compliments; keep it natural.
- Slip a sweet or fun note in a school lunch box now and then.
- Let him stay up 20 minutes later once a month, and make it special. Set the date in advance so it can be anticipated.
- Carve out time for a special outing together—just the two of you—even for a couple of hours. Go to the library, a nature walk, window shopping, an arcade, a music store, have breakfast out.
- Set a goal together and plan to complete it as a team.
- Go outside after sunset on a clear evening and look for the moon and stars (or watch the traffic go by if in the city!). Listen together for sounds of the night.
- If you did or said something related to your child that you regret, apologize.
- Frame some family snapshots you have taken and display them–not just professional pics.
- Avoid gossiping about others in front of the child. It can make her wonder what you think or say when she is not around (and sets a bad example).
- Ask for her opinion and let it be known that it matters.
- Watch for signs of stress, and intervene to help calm your child. When possible, remove or reduce the source of stress. Make sure you are not the cause of stress; don’t expect perfection.
- If you are sitting by the bedside at night, focus on the youngster–not your phone. Read a story aloud, have relaxing music playing, meditate, or just keep silent company.
- Schedule some “no electronics” time and plan fun or meaningful things to do.
- Prepare recipes with your child. Teach useful skills: juicing fruit or veggies, rolling out dough, tossing a salad.
- When space allows, set up and leave a large age-appropriate jigsaw puzzle to work on together.
- In the evening, turn out the lights in a room and dance around together with glow sticks.
- Share a story about how exciting it was when he or she was born.
- Find a local map and point out where their birth took place.
- Keep photos and art work on the fridge, and make a fuss when you are refreshing the collection so the youngster knows it was valued.
- Give a big, happy spontaneous bear hug!
- Make it a habit to offer down-to-earth credit for accomplishments.
- Make a card that reflects your love, and tuck it in a place in the house where it will be found.
- Make time to read whatever book is selected or listen together to whatever music is requested.
- Affirm that your child is special and has a role to play in this world.
- Share silly jokes together and encourage a sense of humor.
- Talk about your own childhood and find a way to share a memory—you could read your favorite book, tell a touching or humorous story, or a family recipe you loved as a kid.
- Offer to play a favorite board game, even if it is one that drives you crazy.
- Have a “picnic on a blanket” in the house, or outside when conditions allow.
- Look through photos together from when the child was much younger and recall happy times.
- Make it a habit to clearly communicate eye-to-eye at least once a day.
- When he is feeling sad, say “I’m so sorry you are feeling down (or upset). Can you tell me what happened?” If you already know the cause, sympathize while helping him to regain composure and ask, “What can I do to help?”
- “You are such an important member of our family.”
- Say “Take your time” (when you aren’t running late!)
- Make comments just to show you are paying attention: “You love playing with those mini-cars, don’t you.” “It can be frustrating when your sister messes with your books.” “I like the way you are using those markers.” “Thank you for being ready for school on time.”
- When your youngster tells you an experience or idea, listen to it with full attention. One day you will wish you could recapture that open communication.
- When your child is excited, happy, or busy find a way to connect – “Playing with your [toy] is so much fun, isn’t it?” or “I can see why you are so happy!” or “I like the way you are working on [activity].”
- Say, “I really missed you today!”
- Take a few moments. Hold your child’s hands, look right into her eyes and say, “You know I love you so-o-o much, don’t you?”
- “I’m proud of you just the way you are.”
- “I’m so happy that you are my child.