How to Help a Child Feel Loved

How can we help a child FEEL loved? When I’m having a day where I’ve said ‘don’t hit your brother’ 1000 times it can be hard for a child to feel loved after being constantly corrected! As a parent it’s my job to teach right from wrong and put logical consequences in place to encourage my kids to make the right choices. Too much correction can make a child feel unloved. Not enough correcting creates a brat! The tricky part is to ensure kids feel loved whilst teaching them the right way to live.

I always put myself in their shoes. If a child is having an aggressive outburst, they are sent to their room to calm down. I remember when I did this as a kid and how this behaviour had negative consequences in my life. I explain to my child that they weren’t sent to their room to be punished, they were sent there to cool off so we could talk calmly. I relate to them through storytelling and explain that I had meltdowns as a child, and embarrassingly, as a young adult and how this cost me a job as an 18 year old after having an aggressive outburst at my boss and yelling what I and all the other employees really thought of him, in front of customers! I say that because I love them, I don’t want them to have to learn this behaviour is wrong when they are an adult, because consequences in the real world are serious. It’s better to learn lessons when you’re five and end up in time out, rather than when you’re 18 and end up fired or in jail! My kids appreciate the correction when they understand I’m trying to help them.

Part of our bed time routine is saying a prayer of gratitude out loud. I hug my child and highlight the positive things they did that day, e.g. “Thank you for my wonderful son Kale. Thank you that he is generous and used his birthday money to buy everyone an ice cream. Thank you that he is kind to his little brother. Thank you that he is beautiful on the inside and on the outside, healthy, clever, and kind and I thank you for all the big dreams he has to be a millionaire businessman so he can help people. I pray he would know that he is loved and we are so glad that he is a part of our family.”  I also believe the 1/3 ratio of words spoken in our home should be three positive things for every negative/corrective word spoken. I do this by noticing the positive things they do or by using an affirmation sandwich when correcting them. I also ask my kids if they know they are loved at bed time. If they say yes (most of the time) I’m on the right track! If they say no, I need to improve. Even the worst day can end well and tomorrow is a clean slate.

I then play this absurd game with them which they love. It’s called ‘The Bairies’ (pronounced like fairies but starting with a ‘B’). So the ‘bairies’ are my index fingers with silly voices and they sing this song (but with words starting with ‘b’): “We love you when you’re happy, we love you when you’re sad, we love you when you’re very good, and even when you’re mad. No matter what you look like or what you choose to do, mummy and daddy will always love you for you.” But because their words start with a ‘B’ they say ‘Bummy and Baddy.’ My kids then say ‘OH! You said BUMMY!’ Then the ‘bairies’ tickle them and say they are ‘rudies’ for saying that word. It’s good to be silly with your kids and remind them that they are loved unconditionally.

Kids are only kids for a short time. In eight years I will have an adult child! During this time it’s my job to make sure they are taught the right way to live and ensure they FEEL loved. I think of myself as a catapult, giving my kids a head start as they enter adulthood with minimal issues because I actually did my job as a parent properly! I think of them raising their kids well, and my grandkids raising their kids well. Parenting is hard work, but there isn’t anything else you do in your everyday life that has the ability to impact generations for good!