Ways to communicate love to your child

Showing your child that they're loved and valued from time to time is an important way to bond.

Every child needs frequent reminders that people love and value them from time to time. Too often we get so wrapped up in our day to day routines that we forget to send messages of love to our children. Unfortunately, we often send messages poorly or we send only angry messages.

Sometimes when we send a message of love the child does not get it. It is as though we are communicating in different languages. That is because there are at least three “languages” of love: showing, telling and touching. The following are examples of each:

  • A child who likes show-me messages of love may want you to do things with him or her. They may want you to take a bike ride together, go for a nature walk with you or work on hobbies together.
  • A tell-me child wants to hear the words like: “I love you.” “You’re important to me.” “I sure enjoy being with you.”
  • A touch-me child may want a parent to hug him, rock him, cuddle him, or hold his hand.

So, how does a parent learn what language of love their child will receive the best? Start by noticing what your child asks for. Does he want time, attention, a listening ear, materials for a hobby, outings? Next, notice the way your child sends messages of love to you and others. Does he or she tell you, hug you, write you notes, clean up the house? Observing their actions can help you know how to be more effective at sending messages to a given child.

Surprisingly, some children even enjoy jobs that seem like “work” if it provides a special time to be with the parent. Many times these situations also provide teachable moments. For example, a child might feel valued or empowered if they’re allowed to go grocery shopping with a parent, especially if the child is allowed to help. Through an outing like this, life skills are also gained as you teach them how to count, find items that match coupons and math skills by calculating the best deals. It’s important to find active ways of showing love and positive attention to each of your children.  

One of the challenges in sending effective messages of love is being aware of what’s important to the child. Take a few minutes to be mindful and think about each of your children and how they may receive messages of love. Children want to know that they are loved and valued by their parents. We can be genuine at sending messages regularly, schedule special times with them and avoid letting anger block our messages. Make a plan of how you will send those messages of love to each of your children in the coming weeks and months.

For more information on parenting of teens, visit Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extension offers a variety of educational programs throughout the state.

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