Kids perceive the world entirely different as adults, so you working hard to earn money for their needs may not leave them the impression that you genuinely love them. Do you remember the things that made you feel loved when you were a kid? Think about it. Perhaps you remember having a great time with your parents, or you didn’t feel loved by them. As a father, you now have the capacity to make an effort to make your kids feel loved, and oftentimes the small things really count.
Since kids have not fully developed their persona, self-esteem, and skills, it’s crucial that the adults in their life seek to increase their confidence. A significant factor of building that confidence lies in making them feel valued, loved, and respected. When kids feel these things, they develop a strong identity and a level of self-esteem, keeping them away from struggling, depression, and succumbing to peer pressure when they get older.
Here are some of the ways you can make your children feel loved:
1. Spend uninterrupted time together every day
When you get home or when your kids get back home from school, devote a few uninterrupted minutes of listening and being there for your child to make them feel valued. Turn off your gadgets or put them away. There is not much fun when the kids have to compete for your attention with TV, your smartphone, or your laptop. Your kids will enjoy your companionship when they can see that they have your undivided attention. Enjoy it, for you will probably learn something fresh and something interesting about them that you didn’t know. You don’t need to carve out big chunks of time for your children every day – even 10 to 15 minutes is enough.
2. Tell them you love them
Tell your kids you love them. Tell your kids you are proud of them. Tell it every day. This will let your child know that they are unique to you. Say it loud and proud. Your child needs to know that you love them unconditionally. So even if their room is a mess, your son got his third speeding ticket, your daughter has poor grades, make them feel valued and loved not for what they do but for who they are – your beloved child. If your kid is on that “you’re embarrassing me, dad” stage, you can always set up a code or a hand gesture. Believe it or not, this will have a positive impact on your child until their adulthood.
3. Converse with them
This may seem like a no brainer, but you may feel that your little kids wouldn’t enjoy talking to you. For most kids, speaking to adults gives them a sense of maturity. Talk to them about sports, world events, your hobbies, your interests, your childhood, and more. Opening up to your kid will open the door for him or her to be comfortable enough to come to you when they need help or guidance. This will also help greatly as you parent them when they grow up as teenagers.
Now, a conversation is a two-way street. When your child is opening up or sharing a story, don’t interrupt them but hear them out, even if they don’t make sense sometimes. The same goes for when they try to show you something from a book, something from their toys or whatever. This way, they can feel loved and wanted.
4. Be physically affectionate
There’s nothing like having an affectionate dad. Kids thrive on affection and warmth so that you can show your kids you love them by hugging them, kissing them on the cheek or putting an arm around their shoulder. You can ruffle their hair and hold their hands while you walk. Even a high five, a fist bump or a pat on the shoulder as you tell them you are proud of them will work wonders. This lessens the chance of having kids that will become anti-social, aggressive, or has problems with behavior. Some dads may have real hard time on this one, but your child needs affection. If you don’t do it, chances are, they will try to find someone who will do it in an unhealthy way.
5. Show up and be there for them
You don’t and probably can’t go to every performance, game, or school program your child is involved in, but it makes a significant impact if you do. Try your best to be there for the big moments in your kids’ lives, like their first day of school, piano recitals, baseball game, and the like. Make a big deal out of it, for these are the days when they feel really special. The person they want to notice more than anyone else is their dad.
6. Spend quality time with each of your children
It’s wonderful when a parent or both parents can spend quality time with their kids on a one-on-one basis. It’s good to have family bonding regularly, but you can make each of your children feel special if you are with them, individually, and their brothers and sisters are not around. It can be going out on a date with your child, accompanying him or her to the mall, playing sports or board games, cooking or making them help with chores.
To better do this, you may allot a day for each of your children. For instance, you can make Monday a day for your firstborn, Tuesday for the second born and so on. On that day, make the specific kid feel more special by spending time with them doing things they love, or by making them take a day off from household chores. You can allot another day also for your spouse, and you can also make weekends a family bonding time. This way, everyone feels loved.
7. Get to know them and ask questions
Find out what makes your kid excited and happy. Know what stirs their passions and provide them avenues to develop it. Get to know their best friends at school as well as their teachers. Know the little things by asking, like what makes them bored, how they did on that spelling test they dreaded, or what happened on their favorite TV show. Ask questions more than “How was your day?” Sometimes, getting information out of your children is like pulling teeth, but you have to be good at asking intentional and specific questions and doing it regularly.
8. Leave them funny notes and messages
Love notes aren’t just for sweethearts, and not always have to be written by a woman. As a dad, leaving loved notes for your children will make them feel unconditionally loved that no one can ever do. It can be as simple as “Go get them, son” taped to your son’s lunch container. Or you can text them or leave a message in the middle of the day to let them know that you remember them even if you’re at work.
9. Goof around
Your kid won’t stay a child for long, so embrace this chaotic yet fun and lively stage in their lives. Children have a lot of energy that most adults may not have even with two cups of coffee, so make time to goof around and play around with them. Stoop to their level once in a while. Be silly, dance with them, and roll around tickling each other. Dads don’t always have to be the serious man in the house. They will surely treasure memories of you in that way as they get older.
10. Keep eye contact
One of the best ways to communicate is by looking straight into the eyes of the person you are talking to. If you do that to your colleagues, your friends, your wife – do it to your children too. Eye contact is so important nowadays because everyone’s eyeballs are either glued to the computer, phone or device. Dividing your attention can make your child feel like they are less important. So if they want to talk to you, put down what you are doing and give them full eye contact. Sometimes, what you’re doing is urgent, so your child can learn to wait until he or she has your full attention, and it will be worth it. This can also help improve your child’s social skills as they get older.
After a long day at work, usually you’re just exhausted, and your face can be devoid of emotion. But to your kids, you may look angry or sad even if you’re not. Take some time to simply flash a big smile to brighten their mood instantly. This can put them at ease with you and confirms them that their presence is valued in the house.
12. Involve them in decision making
Whether it’s picking what movie to watch, what and where to eat for dinner, and what to do for the weekend – involving your child in your decision making about how you will spend time together is a great way to make them feel special. You may end up watching Frozen again and again, but your sacrifice will be appreciated so much by your beaming child. It’s also an excellent way to teach them how to make decisions with their parents’ guidance.
13. Create traditions
There’s no need for something elaborate here; it’s about spending quality time together and creating memories that will have a lasting impact on your child. You can make a pancake breakfast with your child for the family during Sundays, or set a monthly date to the amusement park for the kids to enjoy. You can make your child bake cookies for a visit to Grandma on Thanksgiving every year. Whatever your tradition is, it can go a long way towards building a connection with your children.
14. Set boundaries
Through conversation, companionship, and bonding are necessary for building your relationship; you must also let your children know that you’re the adult on your household and your kids are not on the same level as you. Believe it or not, they will feel more confident and safer when they know they are not permitted to doing or saying everything they want. Setting up boundaries is a tricky part of parenting. You want to establish control and make them respect you as a father, but you also want your kid to feel secure around you and making them comfortable opening up. Knowing the personality of your child will help with this, as some kids need stricter guidance, while others are better off when you give them independence.
15. Train them to do stuff by themselves
Kids are observers – they watch every single move you make. They are learning from what you are doing. As a dad, you can teach them what you know and make it a bonding experience. This will also equip them with life lessons and practical knowledge they can apply in the future. For instance, if your kid observes you as you tie your shoes, let him do it himself the next time your child needs to tie his shoes. It may slow you down, but letting them do things for themselves can show that you believe in their abilities. Once your kid finishes the job, express how proud you are of them.
Once they got older, teach them how to ride a bike, how to hit a baseball, how to play chess, how to fix a flat tire, how to drive the car, and more. Involve them in what you do and let them help. Teaching them life skills is part of showing you love them and want the best for them.
16. Be a good role model
Kids usually judge grown-ups based on their observations of character. Therefore, you need to be consistent. You can better teach your kid to be polite, to wear their seat belt, to be kind to the neighbors, etc. if you are doing it yourself. Parents often forget that they must be a good role model for their children because kids are great copycats. There’s no better way to show them how you love if you walk the talk.