From the moment a child comes into this world, they need to be loved and cared for. It is a proven fact that children thrive in loving, supportive environments. When a child is raised in a loving environment they feel safe, secure, supported, and encouraged to be who they are. Therefore, it is important that parents tell and show their children just how much they care. This not only affects a child’s development and self-image, but also how they treat other people, now and in the future. A child’s surroundings affect almost every decision they make, from who their friends are (or aren’t), to the activities they choose to participate in (or not), to what career path they pursue.
Children of all ages, from newborn to adult, need to feel their parents’ love. Here are someways to do just that:
Put A Stamp On It
You know that little thing called a mailbox? Well, it’s not just for bills and junk mail. Before the days of email and text messaging, people use to actually hand-write notes and cards and then mail them to their loved ones. Not just for holidays either! It’s true! I don’t know about you, but I still get a bit excited when I receive an unexpected envelope from a family member or friend. There’s just something about receiving something in the mail that is more personal than an email or text message. I guess it’s because the person had to actually take more time to get me the message than just hitting Send. Whether it’s an encouraging, handwritten note or a ”Congratulations” card, it’s guaranteed that your child will feel the same way.
Share a Meal
From a sweet treat to a special lunch, bonding over food can be fun for both of you. Turn the TV, computer, and phone off and just focus on connecting with your child. If you have more than one child, you can do this with all of them together and/or have a one-on-one time with each of them. You can make a special snack to share, or have a picnic in the park. It’s great for those families with crazy schedules to be able to have a few minutes to check in with each other. It’s also wonderful for those families getting ready to have, or recently having, subsequent children. With most of everyone’s attention being on the new addition, the firstborn still feels special and important.
Get involved with what your child is doing, whether it’s playing blocks on the floor, video games, or barbie dolls; dress up, role playing, artwork, or messing around with mechanical things. Whatever your child is interested in, ask if you can participate. If you have older children you could take them to exhibits and attractions that focus on or help them to learn more about their favorite topic. For example, if your toddler loves Dora the Explorer, take her to the show when it comes in town. If your teen is really into photography, ask if they would like to take a class together at a community college on the weekends. If they say yes, then sign yourselves up for it.
If your adult child just bought their first home and is experimenting with different design and decor ideas, offer to help them paint or to go with them to visit every home decor store within a 20 mile radius.
Tell Their Birth Story
What a special day that was — the day your child was born. As parents we share the story of our children’s births with perfect strangers if the topic arises. Why not share those miraculous moments with our children? Younger children usually want to hear it over and over and over, while teenagers act as if it’s the most embarrassing thing ever! Adult children are somewhere in the middle. However, children of all ages love to hear the story of the day they entered this world. Make sure that you don’t use their birth story to embarrass or manipulate your child, otherwise the recollection will take on negative connotations. Rather, tell it in a way that they feel just as much love from you in that moment as in the moment you held them for the first time.
Say it Out Loud
Children hear everything you say, even when you think they aren’t listening. Make sure that when you talk about your child, it’s in a positive way. It’s one thing to tell your child that you love them and are proud of them. It is something else for them to hear you tell other people. At the same time, make sure you are not sounding like a broken record. From physical and personality traits to accomplishments and abilities, be sure your bragging covers several different aspects about your child. More than just feeling loved and liked by you, when they overhear you saying positive things about them it makes them feel accepted by you.
It’s A Brand New Day
Every day is an opportunity for a fresh start. The past is gone and there is nothing you or anyone can do to change it. If your child disappointed you or behaved inappropriately yesterday, do not carry those negative feelings into the new day. Let your child know that they start with a clean slate and the ability to make today wonderful. In other words, not-so-great things that transpired yesterday should not determine our actions or behaviors today. Wake them up with a smile, a hug, and/or a kiss, let them know that you love them and today will be better.
Every child deserves to feel that they are safe, secure, supported, smart, encouraged, interesting, trusted, amazing, important, special, talented, and loved. Of all these things, though, the most important is loved. So, what are you doing to make sure your child feels all of these things everyday? No matter how old your child is it’s never too late, or too early, to start with a hug, tell them that you love them, and go from there.