By: Jolene Roehlkepartain
How do you show affection? When kids are young, it’s often easier. Young children love hugs, saying “I love you,” and snuggling. But as kids get older, they often bristle when you try these things. So, it’s important to adapt. Read more >
All kids—no matter how young or old they are—need to know that you’re there for them. Even though older children and teenagers might push you away, many worry that you’ll abandon them. Laurence Steinberg, the author of The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting and You and Your Adolescent, recommends these tips for showing love to your child.
1. Don’t live in the past. Part of the difficulty of helping kids grow up is letting go of the child you once had, privately. Too many teenagers complain that their parents reminisce about the “good old days” when they were younger and did cute things. Save your reminiscing for your friends.
2. Spend time with your child. Even if your child is becoming someone you may not like, hang out with him anyway. If he pushes you away, find something to do together that you will both enjoy. Most teenagers enjoy going out for a snack or a shopping trip. Being on neutral ground (away from home) can sometimes help open up the opportunity for conversation.
3. Take your child’s problems seriously. It’s easy to downplay your child’s disappointment with not making a goal or making the team, but your child’s problems are just as important as yours. Listen to him. Be compassionate. Be someone your child can count on.
4. Help your child get to know you. It’s important for your child to see you as a human being. Too many adults think they need to be perfect people and protect their kids from difficulty, but this only leads kids to fear becoming adults because they’re not confident that they can do what you do. Share your doubts from time to time. Talk about what you’re interested in and then ask your child about his or her interests.
5. Keep interactions warm and light. That doesn’t mean you avoid addressing serious issues (you still need to do that), but it’s essential that most of your interactions be low-key, warm, and with a touch of appropriate humor. Find ways to connect with your child in ways that draw out her personality and make her laugh. You know you’ve done well when your kids start teasing you back.
Even if you don’t remember any of these tips, at the very least remember these words:
From Steinberg’s 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting: “Your child will not be harmed by being told every single day that you love him. Your child will not be harmed by being reminded that she is a source of endless happiness for you. Your child will not be hurt by being showered with physical affection, with care, and with praise when it’s heartfelt and well deserved. Don’t hold back your affection or act aloof because you think your child will become spoiled by all the attention.”
Tell Us:——> How do you show love?
1. Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2004).
2. Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., You and Your Adolescent: The Essential Guide for Ages 10-25, revised edition (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2011).
3. Spending Quality Time with Your Child, ParentFurther.
4. Photo via Camdiluv on Flick’r.