Thinking About Parenting

10 Ways To Make Your Children Feel Loved


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10 Ways To Make Your Children Feel Loved


"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him." 

-Psalm 127:3 NLT

Children are such a precious gift. There is no greater calling than being a parent, a responsibility that can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking. You become a cheerleader celebrating those first steps, a doctor bandaging that first knee scrape, an instructor delivering that first driving lesson, a therapist talking through that first crush gone bad, and so much more.

It's easy to be at once in awe and overwhelmed. You want to be that precious soul's perfect parent (spoiler alert: no such thing). You question whether you've read the right books, listened to the right podcast, watched the right YouTube video, or sought the right people out for advice.

You are certain that if there's a way to screw things up you will find it. I am here to confirm that you will make mistakes. I've made my fair share. I worked too much when they were young. I got angry at the wrong things. I wondered if I was teaching the right things and if I were, could I be sure I was teaching them in the right way? 

But not a day went by then, or goes by now, that the love in my heart for them doesn't overflow beyond any known unit of measure.

Our children are a blessing and a precious gift (despite the terrible 3's and those "entertaining" teenage years), and the most purposeful gifts that we can give them in return are security, safety, acceptance, and at the top of the gift list, LOVE.

If you're going to get one thing right as a parent, make sure that it's loving your children. It's an important journey that is only complete if you love your children and they KNOW that you love them. That doesn't mean that it's all smooth sailing. But even when you have to enforce that curfew, deny that party invitation, or hand out the consequence for swiping that gum from the grocery store, deep down they should never doubt that you love them.

Giving and demonstrating love early, consistently, and clearly to your children has a myriad of benefits such as:

  • Better ongoing communication
  • Giving them a sense of safety and belonging
  • Teaching them how to love others
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Strong emotional intelligence
  • Superior social skills
  • Good grades
  • Willingness to be honest and admit wrongdoing

And none of it must be fancy or mind-blowing. It just does need to be genuine. In fact, it is best when dished out in small doses every day.

Growing Up Loved

Growing up, I was blessed, lucky, or dare I say both. I was loved. Never a day went by that I didn't know it. Sure, I was grounded, sent to my room, disciplined, and had privileges revoked just like other kids I knew. But boy was I LOVED. 

As a parent looking back, I'm sure I gave plenty of reasons for being disowned. One of the stories I like to share happened in the eighth grade. I owned a motorcycle (a nice little Honda that I earned the money for myself). I rode that bike everywhere I could but there were also rules to follow. One time I went to see my girl. I totally lost track of time (as boys tend to do when they're with girls) and it was getting dark. I hurried home only to find my Mom holding the garage door open for me to ride the motorcycle in. She didn't say a word (sometimes the worst punishment) as she took away my keys and grounded me and the bike. To this day, I've never asked how long she was standing there waiting for me to pull up. Some things are better left a mystery.

But even then, I knew I was loved. My Mom is soon to be 84 years old and she still tells that story. There is still no doubt that she loves me. I didn't question it then. I don't question it now.

Every child needs to feel love, yet we sometimes question whether we are showing enough love or showing it in the right ways. Showing love to your child can sometimes feel complicated (especially if you've been standing there with the garage door open), but it doesn't have to be.

 "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." 

-Proverbs 22:6

Here are some things you can start doing or do more often to make your children feel loved.

10 Ways To Make Your Children Feel Loved

1. Love them unconditionally.

They should never feel they have to earn your love. Even when being a parent means you must deliver a consequence or enforce a rule, be clear that they can never lose your love.

As you review the other nine ways to make your children feel loved, remember that every child is unique and an individual. What works for one may not work for another in the same manner. The primary focus needs to be showing your children that you love them unconditionally without fail and you will always be there for them.

2. Say it.

They shouldn't have to assume. Three of the most powerful words in any language should not be withheld from your children. Tell them you love them.

There are countless stories of people losing loved ones and regretting that they didn't say those words aloud. Author a different story.

Say thank you as much as you say I love you. Tell them how grateful you are that they are yours.

3. Show it.

A firm hug and a kiss on the cheek or forehead. Hugs can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve mental health, but more importantly, that 5-second squeeze communicates a lot of love.

My daughter and son are both grown. I hug them every chance I get. I never know when it might be the last time, so I don't want to miss one opportunity.

4. Listen.

Take a moment, stop what you are doing, make eye contact, and actually listen to what your child wants to tell you. This one act displays both their importance and how much you love them.

"The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day." 

-Orlando Aloysius Battista

5. Accept.

They are unique. They are their own people. Sure, encourage them to strive to be the very best they can be, but put the ruler against them and not you, a sibling, or some other arbitrary measure of good.

Loving without conditions is the best way to emulate true love. Love them and their particular personalities, talents, and flaws. Support your children not only when, but especially, when they screw up.

"Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded." 

-Jess Lair

One child may be an athlete. One child may be an academic. One child may be an artist. Don't compare to others.

Pay attention to all your children equally. You may really dig going to that football game but show up for the science fair too.

6. Include.

Ask for their help or opinion. Nothing garners a sense of belonging and worth like being asked for your input. When they can contribute to a project or small task, they feel valued and appreciated. They can even learn something new in the process.

Begin inclusion early by including your children in family discussions as soon as they are able.

7. Praise.

Nothing does a child's heart so much good as parental praise. Celebrate successes and achievements. Be sincere. Be specific. This is definitely a compelling case for quality over quantity. 

Remind them of their strengths and celebrate who they are. 

8. Connect.

Time is fleeting. When it's gone you can't get it back. When Ally was young, we would do "Ally Day" together. When people would ask her what that was, she would simply state, "Whatever I want to do". It was just her and her Boppa spending time on whatever adventure she chose for that day. 

Here are some other simple ways to stay connected:

  • Take a one-on-one walk or drive together
  • Do something they want to do (even if you HATE it)
  • Create a bedtime ritual
  • Join in their play (I've encountered everything from tea parties to having my nails done)
  • Ask them about the highs and lows of their day
  • Show up. Attend extracurricular activities every chance you have
  • Know who their friends are
  • Show your cracks. Let them know you are human too. Apologize when an apology is warranted
  • Watch their program with them (I lost count of how many "Finding Nemo" views I shared
  • Complete a puzzle together
  • Play video or board games together
  • Any quality time that makes them the focus of your attention
  • Read together

9. Display it

You don't have to be the world's best hugger to display your love. Small displays of affection add up. A little note on the bedroom door or in their lunch, a quick text of love or support, praising them in front of others, and respecting their space or feelings packs a big punch.

10. Provide Structure and Example

Children need consistency and routine. The more chaos they endure outside the home, the more stability they need within the home.

Interact with your significant other in a way that models love and respect. Children learn a lot about love and relationships by watching how their parents, grandparents, and other adult role models interact.

Provide a sanctuary that has no membership rules. Your child should be secure in knowing that they'll always have a home even when they fail and the rest of the world rejects them.

There are many ways to display love and ensure your child feels loved and wanted. These are just ten ways that you can begin showing your children love and belonging immediately.

Waiting for the right moment to show love or striving to be the "perfect" parent are both futile undertakings. Your child does not seek perfection. They just want to be seen, appreciated, needed, and shown love with no strings attached.

Understand that money wasn't on the list. You can't buy love and trying to purchase your child's love through material things sets up a cycle of escalating needs which will be hard to sustain in the future.

Your child only wants and needs YOU.

Now go show your child some LOVE!