I grew up in a family of “I Love you’s.”
Before bed, “Night, I love you!” Before school, “I love you!” Getting off of the phone, ” Love you!”
In fact, I still say it to my parents every time I get off the phone with them. And now, my husband and I tell our kids several times daily.
But do they have any idea what we’re saying? At 2 and 4 years old, are my children able to comprehend what those words mean?
I’m going to take a guess here and say they probably don’t.
We know that every move we’ve made since becoming parents is out of love for our children. But they don’t know that. They know we feed them, clothe them, bathe them, AND do everything else for them. But to them, that is our role in life. To take care of them.
So how do you teach young children about love? I’m most certainly not an expert, but I do know what has been working for us.
Quite simply, we show them.
1. Make eye contact with them when they’re speaking. We are all busy. We have important things to ask Google. But we also have these impressionable little people around that have an important story to tell us about Darth Vader and Snow White’s tea party. Drop everything, make eye contact, and listen. Better yet, ask questions.[Tweet “Drop everything, make eye contact, and listen. Better yet, ask questions.”]
2. Affection. Hugs and kisses are one of the best ways to show love to a little one. Only if they like them of course.
My daughter went through a phase where she would “eat” my kisses because she didn’t want them. When I stopped kissing her, then she started giving me kisses. I suspect that may have something to do with her prolonging bedtime, but I’m getting kisses from my girl, I’ll take it! My son has always loved giving kisses. And seriously, there is nothing cuter than a proud, slobbery kiss from a two year old.
3. Play their games. The sweetest words for me to hear are, “Mommy, can you come play with me?” And my sweet girl lights up every single time I respond with an enthusiastic “Sure!” She rarely lets me actually “play,” but I get the honor of watching her play her favorite game. And I can always tell by the tiny smirk on her face that she is having a fantastic time with mommy.
4. Think about others. My daughter has been all about herself lately and it has been driving me bonkers. Sometimes I get concerned about it, then I remember she’s four. Each time she presents with a selfish attitude, whether it’s about a toy or activity, I ask her to stop and think about the other person (baby brother) involved. I ask her how she would feel if she was that person. Sometimes she comes around, but it is something we’re still working on. Either way, I think it’s an important one to mention. I always tell her that it is good to think about herself, because she is important. But we also want to think about others. If they’re upset about something, then perhaps we can help them somehow. (Give your brother back his toy!!)
5. Respect and affection for your spouse. It’s ok to hug or kiss your spouse in front of your kids. My husband and I have even had disagreements in front of them. But we always keep it respectful. It’s our job to show them what a healthy relationship looks like. As we all know, kids notice everything.
These are just a few things we do to show our kids we love them. And one day soon, they’ll understand what those three little words mean.
How do you show your kids you love them?