What makes a child feel loved?
In my opinion, it goes beyond taking care of their basic needs – food, shelter, safety, education, clothing – it’s when they know they are seen, heard, and understood.
Feeling unloved can have long-lasting effects on your child, and if you’re like me, you don’t want to cause long-term damage to your kids.
But, I get it, you’re a busy Mom (or Dad), and you want to meet the needs of your kids and make them feel loved and valued.
How can you do this when your life is already so full of stuff, and you’re just managing to keep your head above water?
Good news! It’s much simpler than you think and doesn’t take a whole chunk of time.
It will take some planning and a little rescheduling, but you can make your kids feel loved and valued.
Making kids feel special doesn’t require large amounts of time, but it does require you to be alert to opportunities to connect with them.
Tune in to their frequency. Listen when your child tells a story, smile at them when they are enjoying a game, comment on their latest art creation. You can have many mini-connections with your child throughout the day.
Bedtime is often a vulnerable time. As you say goodnight, your child may blurt out something that’s bothering them, ask a deep question, or share something they enjoyed that day. Take a few minutes to soothe a worry, answer the question, or share their joy.
Relationships take the back seat when we don’t plan for time together. Schedule special time with each of your kids. Some people take their kids on a “date” once a month. We had “Chat time” each week. Each child had a half hour one evening per week that was theirs. I used this time to do something with them that interested them (within reason!) – reading a book of their choice, giving them a massage or back tickle, playing a game, or just talking.
Include your kids in things you want to do – like baking or working on a project. Teach them a new skill – like driving, baking bread, or basic woodwork. My kids loved chat time and never failed to remind me when it was their turn.
As your children get older, leave notes on their pillow or other surprise places like in between their clean laundry or in their lunch box. Tell them how proud you are of them and how much they mean to you. Highlight something special about them that you value.
Touch sends a message of love and appreciation and will make your child feel special. It’s important for their emotional and brain development.
Try some of these ideas and see which work best for your child:
Some kids don’t like to be touched. Respect this, and when they do come to you for an occasional hug then give it.
Take an interest in the things your kids enjoy – whether it’s drawing, soccer, motorbikes, exercise, or history. Ask questions about their interests and hobbies. Support their dreams and help make them a reality as far as possible.
Making eye contact with your kids means you are focused on them. It shows you are engaged and listening. My kids often stopped talking until I looked up from what I was doing and made eye contact.
Look your child in the eye and tell them you love them. Look at them as they tell a story about their day. Make eye contact when you correct them.
Making eye contact is an important social skill, so teach your kids how to do it by doing it with them.
The right kind of discipline will make your child feel valued. When you take the time to explain what they did wrong and give them a consequence you are showing that you value them enough to invest time in them.
Kids are not dumb. They know when they are needing discipline. One of my kids once told me, “Mom, I’m doing this wrong all the time and you aren’t doing anything about it.” Oops. Kids need to know you value them enough to discipline them.
Here are some things you can say to your kids that will let them know they are special to you:
Making each of your children feel special is not so much about doing a bunch of stuff for or with them, but more about being aware of them.
Tune in to them. Be conscious of their emotional state, recognise opportunities to connect, and regularly spend some alone time with each one.
It won’t take much to give each child a message of their value so they will feel secure. You’ll boost their self-esteem and probably find you won’t need to discipline as much.
Are your kids getting the message that you love them and that they are special? What do you do to make your children feel special? Share in the comments.