15 Ways to Show Kids They Are Loved
After our basic needs for safety and survival, love and belonging are the next most important psychological needs in order to progress in a healthy way throughout development.
Children who feel love and acceptance thrive. For years scientists have studied the effects of love and affection deprivation on rats, monkeys, and children in orphanages and have found that mammals are unable to thrive, or at times survive, without love and affection. Though these situations are extreme, even the most well intended parents among us can fail to show children love in a way they can receive it.
Due to our own unique personalities, traits, and needs as parents, we may or may not intuitively know how to love our children. Many of us may have grown up with parents who couldn’t meet our emotional needs, leaving us even more clueless about how to meet the emotional needs for love and affection of our own kids.
Gary Chapman has written several books defining The 5 Love Languages, and using these to better connect with our partners and children by offering love in a way that is best received and understood by them. If you aren’t already familiar with Gary Chapman, check out his website here. You can also take a quiz with your child to help determine their love language. If you are familiar with The 5 Love Languages you may already have a good idea of the best ways to show love to your child.
Below are a handful of ideas for each of The 5 Love Languages so that you can start to really hone in on the ways your child may need you to show them love, even if it’s different from the way you would like to be shown love. Of course, children are love sponges, and many would enjoy any of these special reminders of how much they mean to their parents, teachers and caregivers! Enjoy sharing the love and increasing the bond and attachment between you and your child!
Good old hugs and kisses are a simple way to show love to these kiddos. Make a game of it coupled with loving chase and catch games for a boost in attachment.
Holding and rocking can also be special ways of showing love, for as long as you can get them in your lap. Extra long bear hugs with a back and forth rock can also be a great way to show your child they are loved.
Tracing shapes and numbers on backs before bedtime helps kids drift off to sleep feeling extra cared for.
Words of affirmation
A nightly ritual of sharing all of your favorite things about your child, or positives about your child from the day, will help to fill these kids buckets of love.
Keeping a list of praise words handy or memorizing some of these will allow for you to consistently offer specific praise so that your child doesn’t get bored with “good job!”
Write little notes for lunch boxes or compliment jars so that your child can keep their loving affirmations handy for a pick-me-up if they need it.
Play a game of their choice. Playing games is a great way to spend QT with your child and offers an opportunity for undivided attention which kids with this love language crave.
Go outside to play. Running around and laughing together in nature increases oxytocin for parents and kids alike. This helps with bonding and attachment.
Build in time each day to do an activity of their choice. It can be amazing what just 20 minutes of undivided attention building Legos or doing art can do to boost a child’s mood. When their love reservoir is full, children are usually more compliant. Bonus!
Giving and receiving gifts
You don’t have to break the bank if you have a child that loves gifts, it truly is the thought that counts, but keeping in mind that these kids prefer tangible tokens of love over other forms of affection can help them feel loved and cared for. Having a treasure box on hand with special trinkets or items you have picked up can show these kiddos that you are thinking of them, even when you’re not together.
Pick up a pack of gum or other small treat when you go to the grocery store. It doesn’t have to be every time but learning to speak this love language will help to increase positive interactions and good feelings for your gift loving child.
Reinforce giving to others. Recognizing that your child loves to get gifts means your child probably loves to give gifts too. These children feel extra special when they are able to share things with others. Make or buy something together to give away to family and friends. Make sure to make enough so that your child can have the special gift too.
Acts of Service
When a child asks you to help him practice a new skill or do something for him, he may be asking for love. If you have a child who gives and receives love through acts of service, doing something for them such as making a snack or helping them complete a task will show them just how much you care.
Help your child with chores. Yes, it’s important to build responsibility, but for these kids, the extra love felt when you help them out is worth skipping the lesson on responsibilities every once in a while.
Let them help! If your child feels love most through acts of service, allowing them to help you with dinner or other fun activities gives an opportunity for your child to show you love too!
I hope you try out or re-visit some of these ways to show your child you love them this week. Shirk some of your own responsibilities and give that extra time to your child. It will be the most impactful thing you do all week. I promise!