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75 Ways to Love Your Kids

Thoughts, encouragement, and ideas about how to love your kids unconditionally. Parenting is hard no matter what but every mom can connect with her children using these simple awesome tips. How to be a better mom or dad with these life truths.

A long time ago, a wise friend told me that love isn’t something that you feel; it’s something that you do. I like that definition because it emphasizes that loving is a choice, not something that strikes you – or doesn’t.

Don’t let this list leave you feeling guilty or inferior. No parent can do all of these things every day or even every week. They are merely suggestions, things you can do to love your kids even on days when you aren’t in the mood.

  1. Say “I love you,” especially when you’re angry with them. It’s then they most need to hear it.
  2. Speak to them in a kind voice whether you feel like it or not.
  3. Every day, sincerely ask how their day was and what they did, and look into their eyes and actively listen while they tell you.
  4. Ask them what they want to do, listen to their answer, and then make it happen.
  5. Hug them and hold on longer than normal.
  6. Kiss them, even when they protest a little.
  7. Let them sit on your lap. To watch tv. To read a book. Just to cuddle. If your kids are anything like mine, they will sit on your lap for an hour, just to be close.
  8. Read to them (here are 101 picture books to read aloud and 101 chapter books to read aloud).
  9. Watch their favorite tv show or movie with them. Sit close enough to put your arm around them.
  10. Ask what they want to play and then play it happily for at least 10-15 minutes.
  11. Send them mail, real mail with stamps that wil arrive in the real mailbox. Put in stickers or tattoos or something else they really love.
  12. Take them on one-on-one dates. Make the dates special. See a show at the kids’ theater. Go out to their favorite restaurant (Grace especially likes buffets and Red Robin {bottomless fries?!}.) and order dessert. Go fishing or boating or whatever they like to do. Offer suggestions, but let them choose the activity.
  13. Do a craft together, but don’t criticize or offer suggestions on what theirs should look like. Let them create their own vision, and then praise it like it’s a priceless masterpiece (because it is).
  14. Do one of their household jobs for them.
  15. Compliment them honestly. Praise their good qualities, but don’t blow smoke. Kids recognize empty words, and you’ll lose credibility.
  16. Go on a scavenger hunt together. Take a box for treasures. See the wonder of the world through your child’s eyes.
  17. Go for a walk together. Let them set the direction and the pace. Look at what they want to look at, and go where they want to go.
  18. Play a game together, any old game. Board game, card game, video game. Let them choose and give it your undivided attention.
  19. Watch videos of them (you know, from when they were littler) together.
  20. Listen to them when they’re speaking to you. I know you’re busy, and they want to talk at the least convenient times, but look them in the eye and pay attention when they’re talking.
  21. Tell them some of the things you love about them. I asked Grace recently what she likes about herself, and she couldn’t answer. She has great self esteem (I thought so anyway), but she doesn’t understand what her best qualities are. I am making a point of telling her.
  22. Learn some corny jokes and tell them to your kids. Pretend they’re funny and have a big belly laugh together.
  23. Let them join you in the kitchen and pretend they aren’t making a giant mess. Always, always let them lick the beaters and the spatula and the bowl.
  24. Throw a party for no reason. Decorate the dining room with streamers and balloons, bake cupcakes (together!), and sing “Happy Un-Birthday to You!”
  25. Lay on a blanket together and look for cloud shapes.
  26. Ask them for help and let them “rescue” you. Pretend to be in dire need, and make the task something you are certain they can accomplish. Lavish praise for a job completed.
  27. Make a pirate’s treasure map for them. Have a special treat at the X. (The treat would be candy or chocolate at my house.)
  28. Have a family sleepover. If you don’t normally allow them in your bed, let them come in for a night. Or go into their bed for a night, if there’s room. You could even have your sleepover in the living room, but that requires sleeping on the floor, so I’m not all for that. Make it like a real sleepover. Play games in your pajamas. Watch movies. Make popcorn.
  29. Tell them when you’re struggling with something. It’s good for them to see that adults have real problems, and that we work through them or at least deal with the feelings. It also tells them that you trust them with your feelings. Don’t forget to follow up with the resolution (if there is one) so they aren’t hanging in angst-ridden limbo.
  30. Take them to the store and let them pick out a bunch of ice cream toppings and flavors. Don’t forget whipped cream in a can (because it’s fun!). When you get home, fix up a fancy ice cream sundae bar and let them make their sundae however they want.
  31. Get an app like SkyView – Explore the Universe ($1.99). Lay on a blanket with your kids, and gaze at the stars. The app will make you look super smart because you’ll know all the constellations and planets in the sky, and they will eat it up. (Bonus points if you learn some of the stories ahead of time. Google it. I suppose should write some of them out in a blog post some day; that’s what I did as an astronomy teacher.)
  32. Know their limits. I’ve discovered that most of my kids’ meltdowns are due to being too something. Too tired, too hungry, too stimulated, too anxious, too busy. Try to end activities when they’re still having a good time (before the meltdown), and you’ll both have better memories of the day.
  33. Tell them often that it’s okay to make mistakes, and admit when you make mistakes. When they make mistakes, don’t freak out (unless you’re perfect and never make a mistake. In that case, feel free to freak out.)
  34. Make a summer (fall/winter/Christmas/spring) to do list. Brainstorm with them to come up with the activities, and make a point to do almost everything on the list. (I say almost because most likely go to the moon or spend a month at Disneyworld will be on the list, and try as we might, we cannot make some things happen.)
  35. Say no once in a while. I’m a yes mom, big time. I make a point to say yes to my kids whenever there’s not a good reason to say no. However, if everything is always perfect and goes their way, they never get a chance to learn resilience and contentment. Don’t give them everything they ask for.
  36. Along the same lines, allow them to experience consequences and unpleasant emotions. If you protect them from unhappiness, challenges, and struggles, they’ll never learn how to cope.
  37. Give them nose to nose Eskimo kisses and try not to giggle while you’re doing it.
  38. When you’re in the car, turn off the radio and the DVD player and the iPad and talk to them.
  39. Clean their rooms for them once in a while without saying a word.
  40. Tell them stories about you and your parents when you were growing up.
  41. Tickle them.
  42. Surprise them. Often. Little treats, fancy details, scavenger hunts, museum visits. It’s not the size of the gestures but the fact that you planned something special for them and that they weren’t expecting it.
  43. Let them help with everyday mundane stuff. Pretend they’re doing a good job when really they’re spraying crumbs all over the kitchen. Praise their efforts. They’ll do a little better the next time.
  44. Go on field trips together. Amusement park, zoo, science museum, park, the $1 summer movies, even the creek at the end of the road. Get out of the house together, and make it about them.
  45. Have a dance party in your living room. (I would first close the curtains, but that’s just me.)
  46. Skip the lecture when there’s an accident. In most cases, they know they should have been more careful (and you have accidents, too, last time I checked). Relax, help them clean up the mess, and get on with your day.
  47. Build something together. Use legos, craft sticks, the sand box, play dough, or one of those kits at Home Depot. Whatever. Just make something together.
  48. When they ask you a question you can’t answer, find the answer together. We recently learned more than I ever wanted to know about ants because Grace had an interest. I hate ants, and I had no interest in learning about them, but it wasn’t about me.
  49. Celebrate half birthdays. Presents are optional. Cake and singing and a few decorations are required. Invite a friend or two to join in, but don’t go all out.
  50. Teach your children how to do real things like vacuuming, laundry, dusting, mopping the floor. These are skills they will need for life. Doing them now will also make them feel like they’re making important contributions to your household (whether they’ll admit that or not is another story).
  51. Learn how to make a whistle from an acorn top and teach them.
  52. Don’t do things for them that they can do (or attempt to do) for themselves. They need to know that they’re competent and capable.
  53. Smile when you see them, especially if you have been apart a while (at work or at school, perhaps).
  54. Have a tea party. Use “special” cups and saucers, if you have them (get them from Goodwill or the Salvation Army store but treat them like they’re very important, because they are). Eat cookies and drink with your pinkies in the air. Don’t be mad if a cup gets broken. (Just go get another one.)
  55. When you put them to bed, ask “How do you think, out of all the kids in the whole wide world, I got the best one?”
  56. Get to know their friends.
  57. Make some spaces in your home that are just for your kids. A book nook, a playroom, a toy closet. Make sure that your house feels like home to them, too.
  58. Sing with them and to them. Sing “You are My Sunshine” so much they know it by heart.
  59. Pray with them. Pray, and listen while they pray without correcting or passing judgement. Remember that Jesus said we should all be like little children.
  60. Let them overhear you bragging about them to others.
  61. Leave them notes – in their lunches, under their pillows, in their pockets, in favorite books, in their underwear drawer. If they’re not reading well enough for a word note, draw a big heart or a smiley face or something else that they will understand.
  62. Apologize when you’re wrong, especially if being wrong meant losing your temper or yelling at them.
  63. Make up stories about them.
  64. Write on their backs. I had never done this before Grace’s best friend’s mom did it on Grace’s birthday. She wrote letters and words and drew pictures on their backs with her finger, and they had to guess what she was writing. The girls loved it and begged for more.
  65. Allow them to teach you something.
  66. Go outside and play. Splash in a kiddie pool, squirt the hose, jump on a sled, make leaf rubbings, look under fallen logs. Just be outside together, doing something fun.
  67. Climb in with them. Get in their fort, in their tent, on their hammock, and into their castle. If you can squeeze in, squeeze away. They’ll love it.
  68. Put your phone away. Whatever it holds is not nearly as important as the little people who want your attention more than anything. Give it to them every single day.
  69. Touch them. Even big kids need a pat, a squeeze, an arm around the shoulders. Often.
  70. Thank them sincerely every time they help you. Saying thank you costs you nothing at all, but it means so much.
  71. Cook their favorite meal and follow it with dessert. There doesn’t need to be a special occasion.
  72. Change the words of songs to include their names. Better yet, make up a whole new song about them.
  73. If they ask you to hold them, sit down and hold them. If you only have a minute, then hold them for a minute. Sometimes, we all just need our moms (or dads).
  74. Kiss their booboos whether you can see them or not.
  75. Love your spouse (in the verb sense). Work on your marriage, and your kids will reap the rewards. Kids whose parents are happily married report being happier themselves and display more confidence and resilience. Be intentional about loving your spouse every day. (Single parents, please don’t be offended. It is absolutely possible to raise happy, confident, resilient children in single parent families, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it is more difficult.)
  76. Make up your own way to love them. What would you add to my list?

If you want to read more about loving your children, pick up the book To a Child Love Is Spelled Time: What a Child Really Needs from You. It’s not so much a list of ideas, but a gentle reminder that toys and books are not what your children need from you. If you liked this list, I think you’ll really like the book.

Thoughts, encouragement, and ideas about how to love your kids unconditionally. Parenting is hard no matter what but every mom can connect with her children using these simple awesome tips. How to be a better mom or dad with these life truths.

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© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

13 thoughts on “75 Ways to Love Your Kids”

  1. I must admit that all I read was the first one and felt I had to comment…I think it is very unrealistic to tell a child we love them when we are angry with them. We don’t have to say anything negative to them, and after things blow over we should of course, say we love them…but WHEN we are angry with them….asking too much I’m afraid. And it wont come out real and they will know it

    • I’m sorry that it’s unrealistic for you. When I’m angry, I make it a point to say something like, “I love you, but I am too angry to deal with you right now. Go to your room, and when I’m feeling like I can talk about this, we can discuss it. I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

      You know yourself and your kids, and maybe it wouldn’t work for you.

      My point is that I love my kids as much when I’m angry as I do when we’re enjoying a joke or a hug. My love for them is not dependent on circumstances, and I want to make sure they know it.

      I do agree with you on one point, Faigie. If it’s not real, they will absolutely know it. If it’s not real, you shouldn’t say it.

  2. Hi Tara
    I really appreciated reading through your list! Sometimes “being-mom” just runs away with you and your list just hit home for me. I love the idea of sending them mail, and although my son is only 15months, I know of a few moms and their kids who would be awesomely joyed with a surprise mail package… Thanks for charing your <3

  3. Tara, my birthday girl friend, this may very well be one of my most favorite blog posts of all time. ALL time. You rock. I”m so grateful we’re friends. xoxo

  4. Thanks for this list. I especially think #33 and #62 are important. Our children (even when very young) are capable of understanding so much more than we often give them credit. It can be very healing in our parent-child relationships for to them to hear us sincerely admit mistakes/weaknesses and ask their forgiveness. I just think about how much it means to me when someone tells me they are sorry…it feels the same for our children, especially coming from the most important people in their life, mom and dad.

    Thanks again.

  5. We have had a rough day today, and I needed to read this list. We have a brand new baby in the house, and I think my boys are feeling a little disconnected from me and are acting out. Tomorrow I will hand the baby to my husband and make sure to spend some serious quality time with both of them.

  6. I love your thoughts & ideas…..my boys eyes are going to light up with your ice cream buffet idea & I’m looking forward to teaching them “you are my sunshine”
    Thank you for this, we all need a reminder occasionally to be a happy fun mum 🙂

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