Inside: Connect with your kids in meaningful ways and prove your love to your kids so they listen better, are kinder to each other, and want to spend time together as a family.
My youngest had a crummy day.
She got in the car from school in a bad mood, and was nasty to everyone.
She came home and plopped on the couch, not willing to do anything that was asked of her.
I gave her a few minutes and then, without a word, I laid on top of her, wrapping myself around her.
I felt her take a huge breath in and then she physically relaxed her whole body.
Then she whispered, “Mama, I love you too.”
But the thing is, I never said, “I love you.”
I say it often, but I didn’t say it right then.
But she knew. She felt my love.
She knew I loved her.
I had proved my love to her in exactly the way she needed it.
And it changed the whole mood of our evening.
She became her sweet self again. She was helpful and kind and loving to me and her siblings.
All because I took a few seconds to “prove” my love to her.
Why we need to prove our love to our kids
Of course, we all love our kids.
And we probably say it to them often.
But we also have to prove it to them.
So they really know it.
So they feel it to their core.
So they believe it without question.
And as parents, we have to take the time to do this for several essential reasons:
1. Prevents sibling rivalry and jealously
If we’re raising more than one kid, we are raising siblings. And that is no easy feat.
We have to parent each of them, parent their relationship, and make sure we’re vigilant to prevent sibling rivalry and jealousy.
When we take the time to connect with each one of our kids individually, to prove our love to them in the way they need, they will be confident in their relationship with us.
They won’t need to compete for our attention or our affection or our praise. Because they will already be “filled up.”
They will know we love them exactly as they are.
And it’s one of the most powerful ways we can set our kids up to be kinder to their siblings.
Related: Raising Kind Siblings
2. Creates a stronger family identity
We work hard to build a strong family identity. We have a secret handshake and go on family date nights and check things off a family bucket list.
We want our kids to want to spend time together.
We want them to enjoy each others’ company.
We want to build a strong, tight-knit family.
But none of that works if they don’t feel connected to us first. They won’t want to be together if their basic social and emotional needs aren’t met.
If they don’t feel loved and valued and an integral and essential part of our family, their fight or flight response will kick in.
They’ll balk. Or complain. Or dread family time.
But if they feel confident in their place in our family, and know they are a valued member of our family because we have made them feel that way, they will want to be with us.
They will want to spend time together and dance in our kitchen to Michael Jackson with glowsticks together.
3. Sets kids up to want to listen
We can force our kids to listen and obey. But that’s not what I want.
I don’t want obedient children who are afraid of me or my husband.
I don’t want kids who are afraid to voice an opinion or tell me what they need or want.
So instead, we use positive parenting techniques to get our kids to want to listen.
And it starts with proving our love to them.
Because when they feel loved and heard it sets our kids up so they feel empowered and listened to…which makes them want to be first time listeners more often.
Related: How to get kids to WANT to listen
4. Sets kids up to want to be kind
There are a few things we can’t force our kids to do.
We can’t force them to eat or sleep or use the toilet.
And we can’t force them to be kind.
They have to want to be kind.
Related: How to Raise Kind Kids
But when we take the time to connect with them, give them all the love and attention and kindness they themselves need, we fill them up in a way that allows them to give love and kindness back out to the world.
Instead of coming from a place of scarcity, our kids will have enough love and enough kindness.
And they’ll live in a place of abundance where they can give away the love and kindness freely because they know more is coming their way from us.
5. Bully-proofs our kids
My daughter was heavily bullied when she was in elementary school and it was devastating.
But one thing we did to bully proof her was to pour into her and connect with her every chance we got.
It emotionally protected her because when she heard those bullies’ words, she knew they weren’t speaking the truth. She knew she had value. She knew she was full of worth. She knew she was loved.
She felt our love.
And our love and connection gave her the confidence she needed to face the bullies day after day.
Related: How to Bully Proof Your Kids
How we can prove our love to our kids
As a parent, I try to connect with each of my kids and I always try to say “yes” to this one thing.
But every child and adult needs, receives, and gives love in different ways.
Gary Chapman wrote about and popularized this concept with his 5 Love Languages book.
The 5 Love Languages Chapman describes are:
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
And we all have one primary love language and usually one or two secondary love languages.
There are quizzes you can take to determine your own love language, but Champman explains we often show our love in the way we want to receive love.
But… that’s where the disconnect can easily happen.
Because how I give and show love may not be how the people in my life want to be loved.
My youngest daughter who felt my love with a bear hug has a love language of physical touch.
She wants the snuggles and the cuddles and to be touched.
She’s constantly reaching for my hand, leaning into me, and taking over my personal space.
When she crawls into my bed, she lays as close as humanly possible to my body.
But my eldest daughter wants nothing to do with physical touch.
She doesn’t want to cuddle. She pulls away first in a hug. She won’t hold my hand unless I reach for her first.
Her love language is different than my youngest daughter’s.
Instead, she prefers quality time.
She wants to go somewhere with me or do something with me, as long as it’s just the two of us with no distractions.
So I have taken her to amusement parks on dates, and I take her with me on errands, and when I tuck her in, I slow down and make the most of it.
Those are the moments I “prove” my love to her.
But to make this work so each of your children knows you love them, you have to first figure out their love language.
Or you can read The 5 Love Languages of Children
Specific Ideas for Proving Your Love to Your Kids:
Once you know how your child wants to receive love, you’ll be set up for success.
And then we have to take the time to “prove” our love to our kids through the actions they need to feel loved.
Challenge yourself to set aside time each day to connect with each child in a way they need.
And then challenge yourself to prove your love in a louder, larger way once a week.
- If they crave words of affirmation, give them specific praise or write them a letter about why they’re so awesome. (You can use these kindness love notes or these notes)
- If they crave physical touch, give out hugs freely and often, or snuggle on the couch.
- If they crave acts of service, help them with a chore or do a chore for them so they don’t have to do it.
- If they crave receiving gifts, draw them a picture and put it on their pillow or grab them a small token when you’re out shopping to show them you were thinking of them.
- If they crave quality time, tuck them in and talk about their day or sit with them while they work on a project.
How Proving Your Love Changes the Dynamic in Your Home
The other day, my daughters were fighting and bickering and pushing each others’ buttons.
They were each saying hurtful, spiteful things and I could no longer sit and see if they would work it out.
It was escalating, so I had to step in.
I went up to their shared bedroom, asked my youngest to leave for a few moments, and closed the door so it was just my eldest daughter and myself.
My plan, since I was so frustrated was to lecture her and prove how unkind she was being.
But I pressed pause and took a breath.
And instead, I asked her how she felt about her sister.
I let her dump it all out… all of her frustrations and big feelings and every little grievance was laid out.
And I said nothing.
I sat there quietly and listened. I nodded. I let her have those big emotions without judgment.
After ten minutes, my daughter was done. And we let her sister into the room.
Without prompts, they apologized to each other.
They each asked their sister to stop doing one thing that was bugging them the most.
And the rest of the night was calm and happy and peaceful.
There were no lectures, no more tears and no more escalation of issues.
And here’s why it worked…
That night as I tucked my eldest into bed, she did something she rarely does…she initiated a hug with me.
And then she whispered into my ear, “Mama, thank you for listening to me earlier today.”
Those ten minutes I spent earlier in the day with her were ten minutes very well spent.
It was me “proving” to her how much I valued her.
She knew, down to her core, she was loved and valued.
And standing there, with her body pressed into mine in a rare hug, I felt loved too.