It’s easy to say “I love you,” but talk is cheap and kids are clever. They know it’s not enough to hear those three famous words, if they’re not backed up with some kind of reinforcement. It could also be some sort of action, like something that’s going to make your kids laugh or smile, or something that will ultimately result in them feeling loved. These are the gestures that will always be remembered.
Many of these gestures can be made on an ad hoc basis, simply by paying attention to your child’s world. By viewing the world from their perspective, you have a better chance of reaching them and impressing on them.
Here are 21 little things every parent can do to make their kids feel loved. I hope you enjoy trying these out at home.
Draw on Their Banana
My kids love when I do this. If they bring a banana to school, draw a face on the skin of the banana with the words “EAT ME” in a speech bubble. You can even put glasses on the banana or a mustache to mix it up a little. Kids really love this. They love to show their teacher and friends too. Also, it’s a good way to get them to eat their banana.
Make a Gift
Kids love creating things out of cardboard and glitter, but they will feel appreciated and loved if you also rolled up your sleeves and made something special for them, like a mobile for their room, a rocket ship, or a princesses’ house. It only takes a little imagination, some paint, and some cardboard. Think about the things that your kids are really passionate about and make something in that theme. Not only will they feel loved because you went to such an effort for them, they will also feel inspired to make something themselves.
Make Talk Time a Priority
Leave aside fifteen minutes a day to just sit and talk to your child about what’s going on in their life right now. Gently probe for information on the times you are not with them (e.g school and the nursery). In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we forget about the importance of re-grouping with our kids. They will feel loved because you are interested enough to ask and follow through on different issues. It doesn’t have to be a very serious conversation, it can even be fun. It’s really just an opportunity to stay in tune with your child’s life.
Make a Collage
Kids love photos – especially if they are in them. Make a beautiful collage for their bedroom with pictures of your child since birth. This will give them a very good sense of themselves, of who they are, and how they are growing up so much. Increasing self-esteem in a child will result in a feeling of self-love. This is a very important part of development. You will be helping to bring this about with this small gesture.
Read a Chapter of a Book
Make a commitment to read a chapter of a book with your kids every night. They will love it even more if you put in the effort of reading with expression and enthusiasm. They will really enjoy this close time with you and they will go off to sleep feeling safe and loved.
Put on a Costume
Kids love it when their parents are silly. Get up fifteen minutes before your kids wake in the morning and put on a silly costume. This might be easier to do when you don’t have to rush off to work. Dress up as anything (a pirate, a witch, a princess), the sillier the better. Then, go on in there and wake them up. Watch their faces. They love it! If you act out the part a bit they will really appreciate it. Fancy them being able to tell their teachers and friends on Monday morning that Daddy was a pirate on the weekend.
Have a Game of Making Up Stories
Your kids really value the time that you give to them. Making up stories is a perfect example of how you can tell them you love them. Take it in turns. Make sure you listen well to their story and laugh at all the right times. Make comments and encourage them to keep going. When it’s your turn, make the stories about them and use your imagination as much as you can. Include things you know they like (their pets, favorite food, favorite colors, or toys). This is good for everyone’s imagination. Most importantly, it brings us closer to our kids.
Cook Them their Favorite Meal
One day after school, cook them their favorite meal or take them out to a restaurant. Include a treat for afterwards and forget about all the rules. Rules are for breaking. Plus, your child will never forget the day you let them break the rules for “just for one day”. These memories last and help us feel really special. You could also let your kids stay up late as a treat every now and then. You can watch a family movie together. These are the memories we hang onto.
Send Them Joke Texts
Kids love jokes, so why not send your kids a joke during the day on their phone. You will find some good jokes online that will be suitable for their age group. This is a fun way to get closer to your kids and it only takes a minute. Your kids will be delighted by your sense of humor and the fact that your text wasn’t a warning to do their homework or practice violin.
Put a Surprise Under their Pillow
We all love surprises, especially kids. This doesn’t have to be expensive, just get a small gift, like maybe a new book or a card game. You can put it under their pillow if they’ve been co-operative during the week. Sometimes small gifts are more powerful than big ones because the element of surprise reminds them that they are loved.
Label Their Belongings
Believe it or not, something as small and simple as putting a child’s name on their belongings can go a long way towards helping them feel loved. In order to feel loved, a child must first have a sense of belonging. What better way to help them feel like they belong than to label things they own like their school bag, retainer, bottles, bedroom door, coat hooks, breakfast dishes, and art corner. Older children might not like having so many labels, but for younger children this works like a treat.
Go on Field Trips with Them
If you can, try to attend field trips, football matches, and recitals. It’s hard to be everywhere all at once and sometimes it’s just not possible; however, your attendance at these events means a lot to your kids.
Make a “Life Story” Book
Buy a large blank scrap book. Start at the front page by pasting in pictures of your kids as young babies. Write some details about your kids weight at birth (etc.) underneath. You can paste in all kinds of pictures. Pick anything that your kid would enjoy. Include family members, pets, grandparents, and neighbors. This helps the child understand that they are part of a loving group of people. Write silly things where appropriate. Make it fun! Your kids can play an active role in what is to be included in the book once you’ve got things established. This is wonderful for your child’s self-esteem.
Give Them their Own Jobs
Kids need a sense of purpose in order to feel loved. Why not help them with that by giving them jobs to do around the house. Select something that is age appropriate and not to difficult for them, of course.
Try Some Decoupage
This is a very old craft that is now back in fashion and used to brighten up old furniture quite a bit. I painted a mirror frame white and cut out some pictures of butterflies. I carefully pasted each butterfly onto the corner of the mirror and popped on a little photo cut-out of my daughter’s face. I then varnished over it a few times before I showed it to her. It took her ages to find herself in the picture, but when she did she was absolutely delighted. YouTube has some great videos on decoupage for inspiration. As added incentive, it only costs a few dollars for varnish and glue.
Make a Power Point Presentation
You may be making presentations every day at work, but did you ever think of making one to your kids? If the presentation is about them, they’ll love it. Include relevant images and use the opportunity to say what you want them to hear. Maybe you want to praise them for a job well done. Maybe you want to talk about plans for the future or the holidays. Maybe you could make some sort of a deal with them, like if they do as you say, they will get something in return.
Don’t forget to keep the mood light or you could lose their interest. This is not the office, after all. You could also include pictures of them when they are asleep or in some silly pose. Your kids will love this and it will definitely bring you closer.
Spell it Out for Them
Get some alphabet cookie cutters and some cookie dough and spell out “I Love You”. They will love these cookies made especially for them and tasting so yummy too. If you don’t have time to cook just use play-dough instead and leave it somewhere they can find them.
Just Get Stuck In
Whatever your kids are up to, and if you find that you have some free time, go get stuck in and enjoy that opportunity. Whether it’s a water fight, a game of basketball, or a game of shopping, get involved. Playing with your kids is a fantastic way to show them that you love them.
Leave Notes Around for Them
You can leave notes in their lunchbox, gym bag, instrument case, their bed, or under their pillow. You can make the message appropriate to the situation at the time. If your son is having a hard time with Math, you could send him a note telling him, “Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out. Stay positive.” You get the idea. Not only will kids feel special when they find a note all for them, but they’ll also really remember the message contained on the note. This is great for kids with attention problems.
Dance with Your Kids
Kids in my house love to dance. We all get up and take turns doing really silly dances while the rest of laugh ourselves into a knot. Music is a great medium for bonding. It really does bring people closer together. Bringing music and dance into your home will provide your kids with many happy memories, as well as reasons to feel loved and cherished. So turn the volume up and get down every now and then.
Bring them Along With You as You Do Your Chores
Whether it’s ironing or changing the bed-linen, you will be doing you kids a favor by having them accompany you as you work. You get to spend time together and your kids learn valuable skills they will need down the line. They may prefer to play with their toys or gadgets, but after a while they will grow accustomed to this routine and they will learn to value it. After all, they will also benefit from quality time with their parent. All kids crave this. When these kids grow up and they are able to fend for themselves, they will remember the time they spent putting out the garbage with their Dad or making dinner with Mom, and then they will feel really loved.
As you can see, these activities don’t cost anything besides a little bit of imagination and some effort. It’s a small price to pay in making your kids lives that much more special.
I hope these little tips help open up a new world of fun, laughter, and love to you and your family.