25 Ways to to help your kids feel loved in less than 5 minutes. Plus mother-child date ideas and a free printable.
We had a zillion things to do before the dentist appointment. When the kids woke up, we got straight to work.
I washed dishes. Made the bed. Swept the floor. I nagged the kids to eat breakfast. Brush their teeth. Get dressed. I barely even said, “Good morning.”
And then it was time to leave.
I wrestled a wiggly baby, packed the diaper bag, and barked out more commands, “Get your shoes on. Get in the car.”
My son Freaked. Out.
He screamed like only a two-year-old can. We can’t go, he protested. He wanted to play with his dinosaurs or lie in bed with a sippy cup of milk. He wanted me to pick him up or snuggle. Anything but get in the car.
We didn’t have time for this. I didn’t have time to deal with snit fits and freak-outs.
So I didn’t deal with it. Not well, anyways. I scooped him up and strapped all the kids in their car seats, ignoring their protests. Ignoring the whole situation until it just went away.
As we pulled out of the driveway I saw tears in my rear-view mirror.
Their tears dried up but the disconnect lasted.
That morning, my kids didn’t feel loved.
When they feel powerless
I was too busy thinking about everything I needed to get done and I forgot to think about my kids.
Being a kid is hard.
Our little guys don’t know how to handle their big emotions. They struggle to communicate and feel understood. They want to play, but we constantly interrupt them, “Brush your teeth. Pick up your toys. Get in the car.”
We tell them how to walk, what to do with their hands, how they can and can’t play. We decide how much dinner they eat and when they use the bathroom.
As moms, we love our kids, so we do these things to keep them safe and healthy. But it doesn’t make them feel loved. Instead it makes them feel powerless.
We need to do more than love our kids. We need to show them we love them.
We need to make them feel loved.
Show them we love them
We need to stock up on positive interactions. Some call it “filling the tank.”
Healthy relationships need 5 positive interactions for every negative one. Tweet this.
We add extra positive exchanges whenever we can so the negative ones don’t tip the scale. It helps our kids feel valued and loved even in hard times.
There are 2 awesome ways to fill our relationship tanks.
The first is to do small things every day to show our kids we love them. Give your kids a little extra time, effort, or attention. Do little gestures that make them feel special. Use this list for ideas your kids will adore.
- Look in their eyes and smile
- Share a high 5, fist bump, or secret handshake
- Hold hands
- Scratch or rub their back
- Play what they want- without your phone out
- Split a special treat
- Play a board game
- Give them spa treatment (face mask, paint their nails)
- Tell a story
- Read a book
- Listen to their stories
- Ask open-ended questions
- Compliment them
- Surprise them with a gift
- Get messy together
- Snuggle in bed with a short movie
- Create artwork
- Build Legos
- Cook a toddler-friendly recipe together
- Watch the birds and squirrels
- Build a fort
- Drink juice out of champagne glasses
- Go for a walk
- Draw with chalk
- Pick dandelions
These small things show our kids every day that we love them. That they are special to us.
But sometimes we need something bigger.
The second awesome way to fill our relationship tanks is to go on dates and have one-on-one time to talk and bond. A “mommy-daughter” or “mother-son” date is the perfect solution.
Be creative and do things your kids love. These are some of my favorites dates to get you started.
- Share a donut and iced coffee
- Go out to lunch (where kids eat free)
- Play arcade games
- Go window shopping
- Stop at the candy store for a special treat
- Take a walk or bike ride
- Go to the beach
- Shop at Goodwill- they can pick out whatever they want without worrying about the price
- Visit a local park
- Find ducks to feed
- Go to a farm
- Visit an aquarium or children’s museum
Do it now
Our kids need to feel loved. And we’re the ones who need to make that happen. Now is the perfect time to start!
- Print the list and brainstorm ideas to add.
- Every day, do at least 3 things from the “Little Gestures” list.
- Pull out your calendar and schedule a “Mother-Child Date” with each of your kids. Find a babysitter and mark it on the calendar.
It makes a difference
This morning, I had a zillion things to do again. But this time, I made sure to think about my kids. I made sure to connect with them and help them feel loved.
They woke up and I snuggled in beside them and asked about their dreams. Then I prompted them to eat breakfast and surprised them with sprinkles in their yogurt. I asked them to get dressed and complimented their outfit choices.
We sat together to put our shoes on and talked about our plans to play outside after lunch. We finally piled into the car and I asked them what music we should listen to.
And as we pulled out of the driveway, I didn’t hear any crying. I didn’t see any tears. Instead, my kids felt loved and I saw smiles in my rear-view mirror.