On Making your Child Feel Loved

How could my child possibly doubt my love? After all, I love my child more truly, more madly and more deeply than anyone ever loved any child in the history of child-loving. Surely my child can see that I am Mrs Love, the mother of all loving mothers!

But, of late, my wonderful, communicative, open and honest daughter has been heard to ask rather too often 'Mum, do you love me?'.

So I have had to take a long, hard look at my behaviour towards her.

The Bad News

We cannot just presume that our children feel our love for them and then think that our loving gives us permission to go ahead and act however we want.

Naomi Aldort wrote in her book, 'Raising Children, Raising Ourselves' that "Loving a child does not guarantee that he will experience himself as being loved.". The following quote hit me like the preverbial tonne of bricks:

"You might adore your daughter when she's behaving properly but it's how you treat her when she's misbehaving that reveals your compassion or lack of it.". OK got it!

Doubting a parent's love can lead children to unhappiness, disinterest in doing things, problems in speech/lerning, bed-wetting, tics, sleep disorders, aggression, eating disorders, general tension and irritability.

"Children are only able to endure rough times and mighty challenges as long as they take our love for granted and can express themselves fully." - Naomi Aldort
So how can I show my child love?

How can I be sure without a shadow of a doubt that my child feels loved and admired?

These are the questions I ask myself as the mother of young children.

"Most parents love their children and also want their children to feel loved, but few know how to adequately convey that feeling." - Chapman & Campbell, The Five Love Languages for Children.

The Good News

There are several good books on the subject and to make a long story (or several long books) short the way we feel love can be divided into a few categories. Keep in mind that different categories will appeal to different children.

Do you feel greater love from someone who offers to bring you a cup of tea while you put your feet up (service) or from someone who brings you flowers (gift). Do you like to hear 'I love you' and that you're doing a good job (affirmations) or does a good hug and some hand-holding say more that a thousand 'I love you's?

What does your child like most?

  • quality time - make sure your child is getting special time with you, receiving one-on-one attention on a regular basis. Warning: this is not something to put on your 'to do' list, cross it off and then forget about it. This should be standard operating procedure.

  • physical affection - when the children get bigger, we can find ourselves so busy with our 'stuff' that days can go by without touching or hugging our child. Being able to hug and touch our children is a gift. Take a moment to think of those who, for whatever reason, are unable to feel, smell, embrace and hold close their loved ones. Let's get 'in touch' with our kids today.

  • service/meeting needs - no, I don't mean you have to become your child's slave, and certainly there is an art in knowing when to let your child do things for himself and allow him to grow into his independence, but there is something very loving in someone noticing what we need, wanting us to have it and helping us to attain it.

  • gifts - we have to be careful with this one because our kids already have so much. I prefer to keep gift-giving to holidays and birthdays, but the times that I've noticed my gift giving really affecting my child emotionally have been when the gift has been something small and inexpensive but something of personal meaning to my child; something that I have paid attention to and noticed about my child that I have felt would be important to him. There is often not much to differentiate between this type of gift-giving and 'meeting needs'.

  • affirmations - never underestimate the power of our thoughts and words when dealing with our children. The words our parents spoke repeatedly to us in our childhood we carry with us all our lives - the good and the bad. Let's consciously start to build up a repetoire of positive statements that will uplift our children throughout their lives. For more information see my article Affirmations for your Children.

  • freedom - I remember taking my mother's attempts to direct my life as meaning that she did not trust me. I used to think to myself 'doesn't she realise that this is my life and I care more about it than she does? Doesn't she trust me to do what's best for me?'. Now I am being called to use this insight and wisdom from yesteryear on myself. I love the way Life works like that.
    "Love is the revelation of the other person's freedom" - Octavio Paz (Mexican poet).

Unconditional Love
All these quotes and ways of acting loving are just ways of expressing how it looks from the outside.
The truth is that Unconditional Love is not something you can give, but something you can be plugged into, a connection to Source Energy. You plug into this connection each time you reach for more positive feeling thoughts about your child.
For example, 'my child will work it out', or 'my child just wants what's best for her', or 'my child is acting like this for a very good reason'. For more stree-free thoughts about your child and ways to become more light-hearted and connected, see my earlier article Inspiring your Children.

Some 'tried & tested' ideas
  • Make your child your project and just begin to pay attention and notice what goes on between you. This simple conscious action in itself will lead to your child feeling loved and special just because they are suddenly in your spotlight. And your child's well-being now becomes your primary intention. This can only strengthen your bond.
  • Don't be afraid to promote yourself as a mother to your children. Point out all the little (and big) things you do for them and, even as you are doing something for them, you can mention that you are doing it because you love them. 'Yes, you can go and buy an ice cream, but only because I love you...', 'Yes, I'll cook you your favourite meal, but only because I love you...', 'Yes, you can invite your friend/ start a new after-school activity/ borrow my jewellery/ use my computer/ have a lift, but only because...'. It all becomes a bit silly and funny after a while. Humour always has a way of bringing people together. Lightheartedness is a characteristic of Spirit. Our children, like us, tend to make up stories about how they are unloved and then begin believing their thoughts even when the reality in front of them is showing them something different. We need to help them 'change the record'.
  • Keep in mind the word 'delighted'. "You can be delighted with the child but deny her choice." - Naomi Aldort. I find that when I keep the word 'delighted' in mind when I deal with my children, for example, when they are about to arrive home from school, our interaction is always positive. I can choose to be delighted with my child whatever is going on with them at the time. Imagine being greeted by someone who is always so delighted with you no matter what mood you're in, no matter what trouble you've got yourself in. How wonderful! This sort of welcome would melt your resistance right away and open yourself up to spill all your worries.
After all we want to be a soft place for our children to land, a safe haven from the trials of outside life.

"And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all." - Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are.
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  1. Your post gave me an "ah-ha" moment. Thanks. Oh, and I love the quotes.

  2. I tried to follow your link to your post about Affirmations and it did not work.

    If you fix the link, would you mind sending it to me at my email (coffeeandchemo@gmail.com). I am interested in reading what you wrote.


  3. I loved this post and I referred to it in my blogpost about Sandy Hook. <a href="http://thekindergartenchick.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-one-about-sandy-hook.html>The One about Sandy Hook</a>

  4. what does a parent do when a grown child admits feeling less loved than her siblings when they were growing up?