Third of a four-part series | Part Two
Here are 10 enjoyable ways to express love to your children:
1. Surprises. Once a week give a happy surprise to your child, a special something. It can be material or non-material – for example, an unexpected craft you do together, maybe something seasonal. Or create a puppet show and be creative using buttons, clothespins with faces, spoons and forks for puppets. Other examples include making a new kind of cookies, writing a letter to grandma and adding stickers and glitter, buying a new board game, ice skating or rollerblading together. Anything that surprises with a smile. Tailor it to what you know will delight your child.
2. Learn something new together once a week. Research a subject on the internet that you’re both interested in and print off information to discuss. Or find a library book on a subject you both would like to learn more about. Do an art project or write a story together about your new learning. Increasing your time together and your child’s awareness are both actions of love.
3. Peace Table. Designate a space in your home as a peace table to work through disputes and hurt feelings. When two family members are having a problem, they must resolve it at the peace table. The rules are very simple and follow the guidelines for conflict resolution:
- Step 1: Both people briefly describe what happened and how they felt. Each must listen to the other and not call names, just tell their side.
- Step 2: Both come up with a way to solve the problem.
- Step 3: Both come to an agreement about the situation that each feels good about.
All of this is done in 3-4 minutes. (Each side has one minute to tell their experience.) Doing this quickly brings swift resolution. The four-minute maximum rule keeps everyone on task and results are fast and successful. This works! Try it! You can decorate the area with your childrens’ drawings or art work of peace, as it sets the mood.
4. Create an art wall. Have your child choose his/her best work from that week and frame it with construction paper, so that it’s special. This gives recognition to your child which is a form of love. Also included can be awards, book reports, happy grams from teachers, etc. This builds esteem and reminds kids what they’ve accomplished week to week.
5. Giving Choices: As often as possible give your children choices, even if it’s just choosing the order of doing things such as saying, “Do you want to have your snack first or clean up your room first?” “Would you like to walk the dog first or finish your homework first.” “Do you prefer to call your friend first or take out the garbage first.” “Which birthday gift do you think would best for your friend, a game or a hockey stick?”
Giving choices helps your child feel respected, not coerced, and helps them learn decision-making skills, too. As children practice making decisions, they develop a strong sense of self. It empowers them, and they also learn to make good decisions in the process of trying different choices.
6. Giving Help: Ask what your child needs help with once a week, and give that help. It can be help with learning to use a yo-yo, taking over their task of feeding the pets while they stay after school for something special, etc. In return, ask your child to help you with something. This sharing of caring and responding to another person’s need expresses love. Reciprocal help demonstrates fairness, another aspect of love.
7. Most kids love animals. Spend time once a week learning about a new one with your child. (You’ll never run out of animals.) Animals have many loving qualities and elicit love itself just looking at them, talking about them, or learning about them.
8. Volunteer with your kids. There are so many places in your town and area to volunteer with kids. You teach a broader love here, with concern and actions of help for others. Teaching kids to make a habit of making a contribution to their community and others in need is a major act of love.
9. Improve and beautify your home. Ask your child how your home can be a more beautiful and happy place. Kids will have many ideas about this. Let them add colors that they feel good with, activities that bring them happiness, and other suggestions they make to enhance their enjoyment of home.
10. Comfort corner. Have a space where kids can go to be alone, undisturbed and reflect. Make it a place that has soft pillows, soothing music available and pleasing photo albums and picture books. When someone is in this area, words of comfort may be offered by different family members. Foot massages bring great comfort, as well as hot chocolate.
Part Four: Cultivating Love