Our children’s sense of self and identity is majorly influenced by their feelings of being loved. Many families say the words “I love you” on a frequent basis, but – even more important than words – are our actions that express love.
“Love notes” are a wonderful way to help our children know that they are loved. The note can be as simple as a smiley face on a post-it note in their lunchbox or a note with a heart on it stating “I checked on you while you were sleeping” under their pillow. Leaving notes in random spots or writing a letter to your child telling him or her how highly you think of him or her will bring an extra smile to their day.
Your undivided attention sends a clear message of love to your children. Too often, we ask them to “wait one minute while I finish this”, but a minute turns into an hour and our children stop waiting for us. When our children want to share something with us, it is important to them – even if it seems like rambling dribble to us. Let your children know you are listening by stopping what you are doing, looking them in the eye, and asking questions about what they are telling you.
Showing our children we love them even when we are angry with them may be difficult, but is a very important manifestation of love. Those moments allow us to model the proper expression of emotions. Statements like “I love you very much but am angry that…” will help your child learn that love is unconditional.
Research shows that we utter far more “negative statements” (don’t do that; no; stop) than positive statements in a day. The same research tells us that positive communication reinforces good behavior, builds confidence in our children, and strengthens family ties. When your children are fighting over a toy, for example, try making a statement such as “You are both very kind and generous. You are also very smart. I think you might be able to solve this problem without the toy being taken away.” Instead of yelling when my children are misbehaving in the car – I pull over and start reading the book I always carry with me (a trick I learned from my mom). Sometimes, no statement at all says more than yelling might say.
Having other loving relationships – with your spouse, your extended family, your friends – is key for showing your children other ways of expressing loving and caring feelings. When there is love around them, children feel loved.
Love provides our children with a solid foundation that contributes to and positively impacts their identity, their sense of self, and their self-esteem. Find unique and creative ways to show your children how much they are loved.