How to Make Your Child Feel Loved
Certain Communication or Parenting Styles May Hinder Your Love Message
As parents or caregivers, we want the children in our lives to know that we love them. We work hard to communicate that love. We care for them, feed them, clothe them, and protect them. We want what's best for them and work hard to make sure they have the things they need - and some of the things they want. Most of us tell our kids that we love them, and we work hard to come up with ways to "connect" with our kids and show them that we love them.
Yet, when there is a chronic lack of cooperation, when we nag our kids all the time or yell at them, let them steamroll us, or face mutiny in the ranks, we finally come to a place where we begin to question whether we have fallen short of our grand intentions. We can feel as though we've failed as parents. Quite frankly, we don't feel very loving in that moment. We just feel beaten up. And we know our kids don't feel loved by us as much as we really do love them. So, how do we address these issues so that our kids feel loved and cherished by us? How can we begin to reclaim our relationships with our children instead feeling defeated in connecting with these ones whom we love the most in the world?
First, let's look at possible styles of communication or discipline that you might be using that could hinder your ability to consistently and effectively convey to your kids the love you have for your them. I promise, this self-examination is the only painful part of the process (everything else is fun).
It is important to assess which style(s) you normally use in communicating with your child:
- aggressive, or
- some combination of the three styles.
An interactive online questionnaire offered at the Excellence Gateway by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) of the UK can readily help you determine your exact mixture of communication styles. Of course, an assertive style is the one you want to aim for. If the style of communication that you currently use (one of the other two or a combination) is counterproductive, you can change it. Communication style is simply a learned skill, like riding a bike or driving a car. Some of us literally need to go back to school to learn to communicate in a way that's more supportive of the people we love, including ourselves. There are a number of interpersonal communication courses offered at local colleges and service organizations. In a few short weeks, you could be communicating at a whole new level - one that will impact every relationship you have in a positive way.
Your Parenting Style
Which of the styles described best matches your Parenting Style?
You'll also benefit from knowing your own parenting style, whether it's:
- permissive, or
- authoritative (democratic),
- or a combination of these.
To find out easily, you can take a parenting style quiz here on HubPages.com. It is a short quiz that you score yourself. Once you have your results, you can begin to better understand your current style of parenting and the pros and cons of that particular approach.
The authoritative parenting style is the style that best balances appropriate discipline and boundaries with love. This parenting style reinforces everyone's rights, opinions, and personal worth within the family and can encourage attachment. It's the one you want to shoot for.
If you feel that your current parenting style is the the best one to support your relationship with your child, the good news is that you can modify it so that it does. ActiveParenting.com offers an excellent video series on parenting. Also, there are plenty of good parenting classes offered locally - many for free - through churches and other community organizations. This is not about blaming yourself or admitting failure on your part, it is about becoming the BEST parent you can be. Even top professional athletes like Lance Armstrong and Michael Jordan have coaches to help them make it to the top of their game!
The Five Love Languages of Children
Variety is the Food of Love
Once you have established a positive communication and parenting style with your child, what is left is FUN! The object is to feed your child's love tank in as many "love languages" as you can speak, whether you're fluent (well-versed) in them or not. Variety is key. Take every opportunity to convey to your child your deep, abiding love and affection for him or her. You can make this connection through every sense - sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
- Sight - Smile at your child. Laugh with him or her. Leave "love notes" in unexpected places, such as pinned to her dance outfit or in toothpaste on the bathroom mirror.
- Sound - Tell, sing, or rhyme your love to your child. Tell your child stories of their babyhood or of your childhood. Find a sound that is comforting to your child. My daughter is very comforted by the sound of the washing machine and dryer when she is falling asleep or waking up in the morning, so I wash clothes around those times. Don't forget to PRAISE your child. Praise builds your child's self-worth at the same time it connects the two of you.
- Touch - Gently touch your child. Snuggle with him or her. Find special touch activities that comfort your child or make him or her feel cherished. My daughter loves a foot massage, and she regularly receives one from me.
- Taste - Regularly make (and share) your child's favorite foods as a special treat.
- Smell- Make certain the smells in your home are pleasing. Provide a special shampoo. Bake wonderful homemade breads that tempt with delicious hints of cinnamon, vanilla, and spice. You're not a baker? That's what an automatic bread maker is for - it does the hard work while you enjoy time with your child.
Gifts - An Expression of Love
Gifts are an expression of love. Include them in your love bag.
- The gift of yourself: your time and your attention - This is THE MOST IMPORTANT gift you can give your child. Regularly spend time with your child when your attention is fully engaged on your child. Most children instinctively crave this expression of love and for many, it is their favorite of all the many ways you can show them love. For these children, to feel loved, they must have your gift of time. My daughter really looks forward to our "Mommy and Kayla time."
- Tangible gifts - most children also respond to the thoughtfulness of a tangible gift. They take delight in you're thinking of them and, usually, in the surprise element involved in the giving of the gift.
By noticing what kinds of expressions of love to which your child responds best (it could be different from those to which you respond best) and focusing your efforts there while expressing your love in a variety of other ways, as well, you can ensure that you "connect" with your child's love meter and that his or her love tank stays full.
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