As a parent, you may find yourself caught up in the motions of day-to-day life with your children, but it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the things you’re doing that are making them feel loved. Sometimes, it’s not always what meets the eye at first. Beyond the simple “I love yous,” do you remember what made you feel loved as a kid? Sometimes it’s the small things — the things that are so easily overlooked — that make the biggest difference. Here are 10 ways to make your children feel loved every day.
1. Give them physical affection.
Taking a moment to give your child a kiss, a hug, a pat on the back, a cuddle on the couch, etc., can go a long way. Research has shown that kids thrive on warmth and affection. It can even reduce the chances of your children developing behaviour problems, including becoming anti-social and aggressive.
2. Turn off the TV and other electronic devices during mealtimes.
While it used to be the TV that was the biggest problem, there are a plethora of other electronics circulating throughout the home that create a gap in interpersonal communication. But whether it’s the TV, the phone, or an iPad, it’s important to shut it down when it’s time to eat. We already create an environment that promotes connecting through meals. From sitting at the dining room table to creating foods that fit everyone’s tastes, we choose to sit down next to one another to connect on a variety of levels. When these electronic distractions dissipate, the advantages are tenfold. Research has found that turning off the TV, for instance, promotes healthier eating and drinking habits in kids. They also enjoy the companionship of their parents and siblings.
3. Make bedtime an important process.
We all know how precious bedtime is for younger kids. Hearing bedtime stories, being tucked into bed, and even having the parent sneak in for a cuddle all make the process meaningful. Continuing to find a way to make bedtime a pleasurable experience through bonding is important both for the parents and the kids. The added bonus just so happens to be that it aids in your child’s brain development, too.
4. Use love and affection to discipline your children.
Physical discipline has shifted into a taboo in many cultures, but nevertheless, some still feel that it is an effective and time saving way to punish their children. But it only teaches children to fear their parents in a very scary way, and that, if they want others to fear them, violence is the answer. But when disagreements and conflicts between you and your children arise, it’s important to show them that your love is real in both good and bad times. Teach them that love is unconditional even when a negative situation occurs.
5. Look into their eyes when communicating with them.
When you’re speaking with your children, it is very important to ensure you consistently make eye contact with them, especially in a day and age when kids are more focused on their electronic devices than anything else. Continuing to practice social skills with them can truly be this simple. More than using your words to explain to them that being distracted during a conversation is rude, practice the importance of undivided attention via eye contact every day to teach them how to healthily interact with others.
6. Smile frequently.
They say it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, but while the debate on that remains in doubt, it’s the positive message that proves the most pertinent.
Smiling promotes positivity. When your child walks into the room and you greet them with a smile, you’re showing them love and warmth. This will make them look forward to seeing you and being around you, and even change their mood to a lighter one as well. Research says happiness is contagious, so when you want to shift the energy around you, start with yourself.
7. Be a positive role model.
Often, parents use their words to inform their children how to behave. Telling them to be polite, to wear their seatbelt, to hold their head high, to smile often, to be nice to those around them, to not judge a book by its cover — these are all good things, but when you practice what you preach, you create an environment that reaches far beyond words. Being a role model is much more than demanding things from your children. It’s being those things, too. Be kind, affectionate, caring, open-minded, responsible, and see how that behaviour changes your child.
8. Let them be a part of the decision making process.
As the parent, it only makes sense that you feel an overwhelming sense of power over your children, but don’t make them feel powerless. While the big decisions ultimately may come down to you, allow them to have input. Ask them questions, give them suggestions, and see how they respond. Teaching them how to make decisions is very important in helping them to gain a sense of self and an overall feeling of independence.
9. Goof around with them.
Your children will bounce from institution to institution throughout their lives, thrown into one activity after another, which can have so many upsides, but can also prove to work against them as well. Allow them to express their creativity and their sense of freedom; teach them not to take life too seriously by having fun together. Laugh, joke, and perhaps come up with out-of-the-box activities to do with them. When your children see you expressing yourself — being lighthearted and happy — they learn the value of it in their own lives, too.
10. When your child is unhappy, take action.
While a toddler who falls down unexpectedly often looks to their parent to see how they should respond, a child often does the same. Before they cry or freak out, they communicate, in one way or another, that things are off. Telling a toddler who fell that it will all be OK is much different than saying so to an unhappy child who is suffering from bullying, issues with a teacher or coach, or general self-esteem problems. Try practical things like telling your child how they should react to bullying, for instance, but don’t just ignore their heartache to prove things will eventually pass.