kids know

24 Jan 3 Ways to Make Sure Your Kids Know You Love AND Like Them

After speaking at an event on the power of words, a man said to me, “I’m 83 years old, and I still remember my mother telling me as a child that she loved me, but she didn’t like me.” I wasn’t shocked to hear this. I’ve heard that exact phrase from lots of parents, and I may have even said it myself. It’s logical, really. Our kids do things we don’t like. It’s frustrating, and we want them to know it. While it may be a logical thing to say, it is devastating for a child to hear.

When kids feel like other kids aren’t including or being mean to them, they don’t say “they don’t love me.” They say that “they don’t like me.” Hearing you aren’t liked sends the harsh message that you are defective, you need to change, and you are alone. To hear you aren’t liked on the playground is one thing; to hear it from a parent is another. But when your kid feels like you love and like them can be relational superglue. Here are 3 ways to make sure your kids know you love and like them.

1. Tell them with your words.

Frequently say to your kid, “I like you.” Yes, our kids need to hear us say that we love them very often. But when love is not partnered with like, it can feel like you are loving them because it is required by Dad law. Nobody wants to feel like an obligation. Saying I like you to your kid communicates that you are accepted, you are enough, and you are not alone. And don’t shy away from telling them you like them in front of other people.

[pullquote position=”right”]Perhaps kids never feel more loved than when they feel liked.[/pullquote]

2. Tell them with your face.

Just smiling when you see your kid is huge. Most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. What are you communicating with your face and your body language when your kid walks into the room? Do you smile at them when you first see them in the morning, when you reconnect at the end of the day, and before going to bed? When they are telling you what is going on in their lives do you put down your phone and listen? Your presence and attention scream “I really like you.”

3. Tell them with your time.

Spending time with your kid taps into what we all know, people like to spend time with people they like. Kids hang out with kids they like. When you spend time with your child, it taps into the power of being their friend. I often hear that “your kids don’t need you to be their friend; they need you to be their parent.” Why can’t we be both? Spending time with your kid says that “I’m your buddy; I’m your friend.” Yes, doing fun things with your kid is huge. But let your kids tag along while you do things like running errands, doing chores, and even—gulp—playing golf.

Perhaps kids never feel more loved than when they feel liked.

Sound off: What do you like about your kid?

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