Do your children ever misbehave? Bring home a bad grade? Forget to clean their room?
If your kids are anything like mine, I’m sure your answer is yes, yes, and yes! All children behave poorly at one time or another and most do things their parents wish they wouldn’t, mine included.
But despite their misbehavior, it’s critical that as parents we show our children that we love them no matter what. That ‘no matter what’ kind of love is commonly referred to as ‘unconditional love.’ According to the dictionary, unconditional love is affection that is unlimited and without conditions. That means no matter how poorly they behave, we still love them!
Why is it important to provide our kids with unconditional love? For starters, it instills in them confidence and self-worth that will remain with them throughout their lives. And the security that they get from knowing that their parents love them no matter what they do is priceless. There are even recent studies that show that love is related to increased brain development in children.
It’s easy enough to agree that showing our children unconditional love is important. But putting that concept into practice every day can sometimes be hard to do. Try these five easy tips to show your children that your love for them is without limits:
Tell them you love them. Your children love to hear you say that you love them. It’s music to their little ears. Even if you have a hard time expressing your emotions or saying the words ‘I love you’ make an effort to tell them anyway so that they’ll never have to question how you feel about them.
Give hugs often. Parents are often a child’s first role model for appropriate physical affection. Start early giving hugs, kisses, and pats on the back. These interactions express your love for your children just like saying the words ‘I love you.’
Listen. When you are having a conversation with your child, be sure that you listen attentively to what they have to say. If you are distracted by other people or things when talking with your children, you’ll be sending them signals that your love has limits. And that’s a message you don’t want them to hear.
Spend time together. From fun activities like going to the park to less appealing chores like cleaning the garage, spending time together increases feelings of affection between family members.
Show love even when they misbehave. It’s pretty easy to express our love and affection when our child is making straight A’s and behaving perfectly. But that’s not usually going to be the case! It’s extra important that we tell our children that we love them when they have done something wrong. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll still get put in time-out for throwing food at the dinner table, but sometime during that same night they’ll also get a good hug and an “I love you.” It’s a lot harder to do this when they’re in trouble, but that’s when it’s most important to show them the true meaning of unconditional love.