Ten Ways to Show Your Child That You Love Them
Every living creature needs love in some way, shape, or form. For children, love and affection are critical for healthy development. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share ten ways to share your love with your child.
- Be affectionate. – Physical touch is crucial for a child’s development and well-being. The sense of touch is one of the first senses to develop in a newborn, and it remains an essential way for children to experience the world around them. Touch helps children feel secure and loved and can also have a calming effect on their emotions. Through physical touch, children learn how to communicate and build relationships with others, which is essential for their social and emotional development. Studies have shown that children who receive regular physical touch and affection are more likely to have better mental health, stronger attachments with their caregivers, and higher self-esteem.
- Build your connection. The average American is busier than ever, and this busyness detracts from our ability to be present. And not being present – especially with our family – can be detrimental. Make connection a priority. Schedule activities that bring the entire family together. Game nights, bowling, trips to the playground and park are excellent. Prioritize dinner, too. Make dinner sacred by eating together as a family and checking in. It doesn’t have to be a time for prying but for connected conversations.
- Discipline with love – Disciplining children with love involves setting clear boundaries and expectations while showing empathy and understanding towards their feelings and needs. Effective discipline strategies include positive reinforcement, such as praising good behavior, offering rewards, and redirection, where the child is encouraged to focus on a different activity or behavior. It’s important to avoid physical punishment or verbal abuse, as these can have long-lasting negative effects on a child’s mental health and well-being. Instead, try to communicate with your child calmly and respectfully and show them that you love and care for them, even when they make mistakes. Using a compassionate approach to discipline, you can help your child develop self-discipline and positive behaviors while strengthening your bond with them.
- Think before you speak. When frustrated, losing our temper and saying things we don’t mean is easy. Harsh words can have a lasting impact on children (and adults). Instead, pause, take a deep breath, and consider your response to their behavior. Model the way you want your children to speak. Use positive and encouraging words whenever possible, and avoid teasing, as it can be misconstrued.
- When in doubt, hug. Hugs are magical. When life gets tough, a hug can make a huge difference. Hugs also give the recipient permission to feel their feelings. When your child acts out, instead of yelling, take a deep breath and offer a hug or other type of affection. When you and your child have calmed down, talk about how they can handle their emotions better in the future.
- Forgive mistakes, and seek forgiveness for your own mistakes. Every parent will say or do something they regret at some point or another. And every child will mess up. Teach your child to recognize when they make a mistake and to ask for forgiveness. Model this by apologizing when you mess up. If you say something hurtful or mess up in some other way, acknowledge the mistake to your child, apologize, and explain how you will do things differently next time.
- Cook with your child. Our Strong Kids clinic provider, Dr. Sanniya Nanda, is a big fan of cooking with children as it is a fun, educational, and bonding experience for children and adults. It allows kids to learn essential life skills such as following directions, measuring ingredients, and practicing kitchen safety. Cooking also stimulates a child’s creativity and encourages them to try new foods and flavors and can be an excellent way for families to spend quality time together while creating delicious meals and memories.
- Read with your child. Reading to your child from a young age has been shown to help children build language skills and improve vocabulary. Through hearing words in context, children can learn new words, phrases, and sentence structures and improve listening skills as they learn to follow the plot and understand the characters in the story. Reading to kids can also foster a love of learning and encourage them to become lifelong readers. It can be a bonding experience for children and adults, providing a special opportunity to spend quality time together.
- Prioritize your child’s health. One of the best things you can do for your child is to keep them healthy and protect them from illness and disease. The best way to achieve this is to take them to the pediatrician yearly for a well-child examination. This typically happens around their birthday annually. Ensure your child has the recommended immunizations. Feed them healthy food and ensure they get plenty of exercise every day.
- Say I love you always. The words I love you can move mountains. Saying “I love you” to kids is important because it helps them feel secure, loved, and valued. Children need to feel loved unconditionally; hearing those three simple words can make a huge difference in their lives. It helps build their self-esteem, confidence, and emotional well-being. It also helps them develop healthy relationships and teaches them how to express their own emotions. Saying “I love you” is a simple yet powerful way to show children that they are cherished, and it creates a strong bond between parent and child that lasts a lifetime.