The 1 Thing You Need to Tell Your Kids Every Day

The 1 Thing You Need to Tell Your Kids Every Day

Kids need to hear certain things from their parents on a regular basis.


By Judy Koutsky

You know you love your kids and you probably show it in many ways: helping them with their homework, taking them to ballet and soccer practice, volunteering to be the class mom. And yet, do you say the words “I love you” to them every day? If not, you should. Read on to find out why saying these three little words is so important.

1. Why is it important for kids to hear these words? Everyone -- adults and kids -- needs to hear “I love you,” but kids especially need to hear it because as parents we are teaching them how to communicate, and how important it is to share feelings and receive feedback, says Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist. Building “I love you” into their lives, letting them know they are consistently loved by parents, gives kids a sense of safety and security that they take with them into adulthood.

2. What are simple ways to show your love? When they win the final goal, ace the spelling bee, or dance the lead in the ballet, it’s easy to hug, kiss, and say these words, but it’s equally important, if not more so, to do so when your kids are having hard days, when they’re not at their most lovable. Just being present, listening, and focusing on your child during a difficult time is extremely valuable. “Remind them of all the wonderful things you know they are capable of and already do, remind them how unique they are, point out a talent of theirs they may not value or take for granted,” says Durvasula.

3. Pair words with action. The words “I love you” become worthless over time if they are not coupled with actions, says Durvasula. Kids can be a handful and they often push our buttons, so we may be more inclined to point out our child’s mistakes and bad behavior then praise or encourage them. Take time each day to get on their level: dig in the dirt, play dolls, or sit at the table together and work on a puzzle.

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4. Don’t forget to tell your tweens and teens. Along with the words “I love you,” tweens and teens especially need to hear, “I believe in you,” “I trust you,” and most importantly, “I’m listening,” says Julie Smith, adolescent counselor and parent coach. These phrases, Smith notes, also convey the same message of “I love you.” The consistent daily acts of love are what make a lasting impression on your tween or teen. When you show love, you model compassion and respect of self and others, which they will hopefully emulate.

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5. Keep it real. Kids know when someone says something that feels inauthentic. “If they sense [forced affection] from a parent, it leaves seeds of shame, blame, and guilt that who they are is not enough. So, when you say ‘I love you,’ mean it,” says Smith. Look your kids in the eye, give them a heart-to-heart hug -- let them hear it, see it, and feel it.

Remember, spending time is one of the most important ways to show kids you love them. Listening, talking, laughing, crying -- just being there is often enough.

What are some ways you show your kids that you love them?



Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/Aifos



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