Five Daily Ways to Show Love to Your Child or Grandchild, from the Practically Speaking MOM
1. Full Eye-Contact Smile
Have you ever walked into a room and someone’s eyes, countenance, and spirit just lit up when they saw you? It probably hasn’t happened too much as those kinds of experiences are rare and wonderful. Doesn’t it make you feel amazing to know that someone likes your presence that much? This is the kind of message we want to try to give our children daily. This includes giving them a genuine smile with full eye contact. It’s a good goal to envision yourself having such a strong feeling of love when you smile at them that your eye sparkles with the delight and happiness that their presence creates.
I know this may sound silly (it feels silly to write it also), but the truth is that it is incredibly stabilizing to our souls to know that someone completely adores us. Our Heavenly Father does, of course, but we are our child’s first understanding and comprehension of what unconditional love looks like and feels like and as we display it well to them, they will better be able to comprehend the boundless love of God towards them.
2. Laugh Together – Getting a little one to laugh is pretty simple. In fact, if you laugh, they’ll pretty much laugh, no matter the reason or for no reason at all. In the early years, tickling them or reading them a silly story are great ways to laugh together, or my favorite of all with a little is to chase them. It’s so fun to just pretend you’re trying to “get them.” It’s so fun to hear a little toddler squeal with delight as they try to hurry away. Good laughs all around from a good chase!
However, it gets more challenging to get your child to laugh as they get older. For an elementary age child, some more things to try are *talking with a funny voice, *showing them a funny picture or telling a joke, *doing something unexpected, such as jumping out and scaring them. Partly it depends on your child’s personality as to what they see as “funny” and what is just “annoying.” One of the great privileges of parenthood is to become a student of your child – figure out the uniqueness’s of his or her personality and perspective.
What makes a middle-schooler laugh? Pretty much anything that you think is ridiculous. Okay, that technically may be an exaggeration on my part, but truly, middle-schoolers are going through such change and self-evaluation that they have a hard time knowing how they feel about many aspects of life, including deciding whether something is humorous, hilarious, or terrible. Keep trying to laugh with them, though, because they really need some comic relief from the stressors they’re dealing with internally.
A pretty reliable form of fun with middle and high school age kids is to develop some “inside jokes.” Our family has bonded over our favorite movies or experiences and sharing a line from a movie or from a good memory brings some quick comedy to the fast-paced routines of a busy family. Taking “selfies” together is another pretty safe bet for middle-schoolers. High school students are often “over” taking selfies, especially with parents, but hey, if yours isn’t then go for it!
In short, laughter creates bonds. The more you laugh with your child the closer you will become. I must confess, I am not a fun or funny person. This one is very hard for me. I am gradually getting better at it. I will say, that I can think of two different times when one of my kids was a teenager and we were clashing a lot, that taking them out for the day (an unplanned time of missing school and just going on a day time parent/teen date and being light-hearted and silly all day) really helped a lot in getting out of that teenage grouchy rut. Don’t underestimate the power of a laugh! (Playing a game together is another great way to bond and make memories. Our favorite quick games are Telestartions, Monopoly Deal, Speed Scrabble, Coup, and Dutch Blitz.)
3. Physical Affection
A squishy hug (no stiff hugs, they don’t count), scratching their back, even a poke in the ribs, or messing with their hair can make your child feel like you enjoy being with them and that you love them so much. Now that some of my children are grown, my husband has gotten into a habit, when we are saying “goodbye” to each of our grown daughters, – he always gets face to face with each daughter, takes her face in his hands and kisses her forehead. Just a small gesture, but I can see it on each face while he does that that it gives her such comfort and confidence to have Daddy’s affection. One of my grown daughters is a mom and the other is a youth director, yet they both are so filled by getting that precious moment of Dad’s physical affection. It doesn’t matter how old they get, our children long for our love, approval, and affection.
4. Verbal Blessing
There are so many great ways to verbally love on your child! Giving her a nickname (well, one she likes), giving her verbal praise for attitudes and actions in which she has recently displayed good character, letting him know specific ways that you are proud of him… these are all ways to verbally bless your child. Of course, when you’re giving a verbal blessing to a toddler, the message needs to be much less complex, such as, “Jamey is such a good boy. He always is careful and brave” or “Jamey, we love you so much!”