Remember that time your child’s face lit up when you complimented them? Has the hustle of life hushed your encouraging voice in their ear? People in general, and especially children, thrive in a positive and encouraging environment. When they hear words of affirmation and acts of kindness, it makes them feel safe and loved.
Here are some creative and practical ways to say I Love You to your children:
1. First, we must remind ourselves that God is Love.
We can’t properly express love to our children without knowing that God is love, and that He loves us completely and unconditionally. Are you have trouble with fully accepting God’s love yourself? Pray over this, ask God to reveal and remind you through His Word that you are loved deeply!
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. ~ Jeremiah 31:3
2. Telling them, “I love you even when you mess up.”
As my daughter was getting ready to board the school bus this morning, we were rushing to finish her math assignment. She was going have a test today, and I expressed to her to just do her very best and concentrate. Immediately a defeated look swept across her brow. “You are going to be mad at me if I don’t do good.” I tried to express to her that I would never be mad at her, I just wanted her to do her very best. Our children need to know that when they mess up (whether it be on a test, do something wrong, don’t do the greatest at that sport, etc) that we love them just the same. Tell them that we have a perfect God that loves us unconditionally and that is they way we love them!
Win Or Lose, I Love You, by Lysa TerKeurst is a great book that reinforces this very thing to your little ones!
3. Leaving them soap love notes on their bathroom mirror.
I suspect that many of us are visual learners. What better way for a little soap on a bathroom mirror to lock into your little one’s brains that Mommy and Daddy love them.
4. Taking them out for one on one dates.
This is especially important for my first born (and maybe yours also). They came first, and then all of these other tiny human beings came and invaded her space. Whenever possible (it will look different for each family) try to carve out alone time with each child.
5. Read 1 Corinthians 13 as a family and practice what it says.
I remember a particularly stressful morning. I was getting all of my three children ready to head off for bible study (I was the teacher) and my baby decided to strip all of his clothing off just as we were about to walk out the door. I was about to lose my cool, when my oldest daughter started quoting 1 Corinthians 13. My first instinct was to be upset… really, this is not a time to be quoting scripture oh holy child. Then I remembered… we had been reading this chapter as a family for weeks, and her ability to recall scripture in that moment calmed my anxiety over being late and feeling rushed. God’s Word will not come back void.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. ~ 1 Corinthians 4:4-8
6. Let them see you do something kind for someone else.
I heard on the radio the other day how one person decided to pay for the person’s order behind them at a drive up window. This simple act of kindness caused five cars behind them to do the same. Our children need to see us performing these simple acts of kindness. Maybe save a few extra bucks and purposely go do this as a family. Having our children be a part of showing kindness to others, is in fact, showing them love.
7. Figure out your child’s love language.
This will take some intentional observation. Maybe you already know which type of affection your child responds best to. Whether it be words, touch, time, or gifts… get to know each child. Thank God for their differences, even the ones that get on your nerves. Most likely it’s because you are most like that child who tries your patience the most. Practice loving them intentionally after you’ve discovered their love language.
8. Make sure your reactions are loving.
It is so easy to “throw up” our emotions all over our children, isn’t it? Especially when we are frustrated and annoyed, hormonal, or had little to no sleep. We need to lay our emotions down at the foot of the cross each morning and pray that our responses to our children would be God-honoring. This is a huge way to show love to our children. When we respond to them in love (no matter what the circumstance is) they will feel safe and secure in our home.
9. Be positive more than negative. Smile!
Don’t do that, sit like this, why do you always do that! Sound familiar? We can get into a habit of of responding negatively to our children. Focus instead on praising them for what the are doing good. See them portraying a fruit of the Spirit or an Christian character? Tell them you are pleased! A simple smile can go a long way!
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. ~ Proverbs 15:13
10. Reevaluate the way you are correcting your child.
My husband and I have to do this every so often. Check yourself… are you correcting your child in anger? Yelling? Quick to speak, instead of being calm and gentle? This is a huge game changer in the way your child will act and respond. Change the atmosphere of your home by praying over your methods of correction and discipline.
11. Let your children see that you passionately love your spouse.
Kiss them. Sit next to them. Hold their hand. Praise them… all in front of your children. This is an amazing way to show love to your children. They need to know that Mommy and Daddy are crazy about one another!
12. Don’t give them everything they want.
While we love to surprise and lavish our kids with good gifts, they need to know that they won’t get everything they want in this life. Remind them that being thankful and content are so important. Maybe sponsor a child together as a family? They need to grasp that this world is so much bigger than their wants. That people are living day to day to just have their basic needs met!
13. They need to know you value their interests.
Keep special items they do. Papers from school, gifts they’ve made, pictures, etc. After awhile, show them that you love their work so much, you are saving it! I’m all for decluttering, and the Lord knows I can’t save everything my child has made, but I can save some! Highlight those things will your child. Maybe even create a special wall in your house to display their work.
14. Help Lighten Their Load
Is one of your children experiencing a really difficult trial? Maybe issues with a close friend, or trouble with school work? Whatever it may be, find ways to help lighten their load with your words and actions of encouragement.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2
15. Read Verses About Love In The Bible
Spend a week looking up and reading verses aloud as a family about love. What does the Bible say about love and what does the World say about love? Which one is true and which one is a lie? Listen carefully to your children’s reactions.
Here are some passages you might like to review together: 1 John 4:7-8, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13, 1 John 4:10-12, John 15:9-10, John 14:21, Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 5:8, John 3:16-17, Romans 8:38-39, John 13:34-35.
16. As For Me And My House, We Will Serve The Lord
It doesn’t matter what another family is doing. Do you get that all the time? “Well so and so’s family does this, why can’t we?” Our children need to know that they have parents that are seeking the Lord the best they know how. If that means that they choose not to partake in certain activities that other families do, that it is okay. It doesn’t mean that the other family is necessarily wrong. All we can do is make a conscious effort to say and live, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:15
17. Give your child an I Love You Book
Grab some paper, and draw some pictures, write some words, all about your child. Tell them why you are thankful for them and what you see God doing in their life!
18. Create a special I Love You handshake or symbol
You can use the sign language symbol for I love you, or create your own that just the two of you know! Why not make it fun and create a little fun handshake that you can do together?
19. Whisper I Love You
When you are playing a game, brushing your child’s hair, or doing some simple mundane task, whisper the words I love you to them and soak in the moment. Meditate on all that God has done in their life so far. Thank Him for what He will do with their life in the future.
Embrace them often. Pull them in and give them real and long hugs. A hug is a simple yet powerful way to show love to your children.
I hope these were helpful! For more great resources for your children, please check out Tommy Nelson books and resources! Our home is full of them and they have been so valuable in the training and teaching our children to live for the Lord!
What are some things that you do to show your children intentional love? I’d love to hear in the comments below! Which one of these on the list do you want to use today?
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