Twenty Little Ways to Say I Love You

Eliza Clark
February 14, 2014

The other morning, I was brushing my daughter's hair before it was time to leave for school. Her hair is thick, but soft and slippery, and tends to snarl in the night. I comb and brush, make braids or pigtails, depending on her mood. That morning she said to me, "You're brushing my hair so gently because you love me, right?"

The question gave me pause. I must have replied something like, "I always love you even when I'm not as gentle." And I know I felt great shame about all the mornings when I brush her hair more hurriedly. But it got me thinking about how her mind works. How does she perceive love? For a five-year-old, it seems, love is in the little things. The tangible things. It is in the things I do for her, but also in the way that I do them. When I make her hair pretty and neat and out of her face, the way she likes it; when I do it gently, not rushing; that I do it every morning without fail—those small actions represent love.

As we muse about "the little things" that make up our days with our kids, we wonder what are some of the other little ways to say "I love you" to our kids? We know we love them beyond reason, but how do they know it? Here are twenty ways to tell them:

  1. Draw them a picture or make them a card for no reason. (My kids draw pictures for me every day—it's only right to reciprocate.)
  2. Give lots of long hugs.
  3. Pick up the child who is reaching up to you.
  4. Listen to their stories with attention.
  5. Tuck them in with a kiss at bedtime.
  6. Read stories aloud.
  7. Take them outside to the park.
  8. Ask their opinions.
  9. Offer handkerchiefs, bandaids and chapstick when needed. 
  10. Play games together. 
  11. Take them to the library.
  12. Put notes in their lunch boxes. 
  13. Help organize and make their rooms cozy. 
  14. Take them on fun outings. 
  15. Invite their friends over to play.  
  16. Stock the kitchen with favorite foods.
  17. Praise their efforts and their best selves. 
  18. Hold hands.  
  19. Laugh at their jokes. 
  20. Put up their artwork on the walls.

And one more for love's sake: Brush hair gently.

How about you? What are your little ways of saying "I love you"?

From the Parents

  • Susan Pautler

    Listen attentively and be present to respond by using eye contact, touch, and show a genuine interest in your little ones' words!

    over a year ago

  •  

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