101 Ways to Tell Your Kids "I Love You"
Enjoy these speedy (30 second), quick (5 minute), and activity-oriented ways to share a Loving Touch, a Loving Gift, an Act of Service, a Loving Affirmation, or a Shared Moment. (Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages)
Helping our children KNOW we love them even when _______ (list the tasks parents ask kids to do when they would rather play) and despite our _______ (all those traits children bring out in Mom and Dad that expose slight imperfections) is what www.home-is-fun.com is all about!
1. Greet them with a cheery “Good Morning.” (30 Seconds, Act of Service)
To those we know, could we possibly forget to say “hello”? Too easily! Cheerful greetings start the day off right…and the relationship too.
2. Give a good morning smooch. (30 Seconds, Loving Touch)
Try 3 kisses: one for each word, “I love you!” He’ll ask you what that was about, and you’ve been given the invitation to tell him.
3. Set the Table for Breakfast. (5 Minutes, Act of Service)
In the morning rush, give the kids those few extra seconds and the feeling they belong. “Your place is waiting for you.”
4. Cook a special meal. (Activity, Loving Gift)
Who said it had to be dinner? We love crepes—both savory and sweet. Try our recipe. Read about another family's special breakfast tradition (see comments).
5. Cook a meal together and let them get the credit. (Activity, Shared Moment)
Plan it ahead of time. Offer a gift certificate for “Chefs Shared Moment” and set the date.
6. Give them funny food. (30 Seconds, Loving Gift)
Draw face on the apple in their lunch box or afternoon snack. Make a ladybug out of a tomato.
7. Do something childish together. (Activity, Shared Moment)
We’ve turned our tongues blue, had bubble gum blowing contests, and caught flying grapes with our mouth. Such funny memories sure revive sad spirits.
8. Go out for hot chocolate before school. (15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
At my favorite café, a father and 10 year old daughter regularly pause for a sip before school and work. As a mini-adult, she gladly sips without slurping.
9. Frame their grades, school work, and artwork. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
Use the Frame of Fame to slide in a masterpiece, “wow” over it for a few weeks, and wish a swish update the work to be admired.
10. Draw a love message on their body. (Activity, Loving Touch)
Klutz body crayons makes it easy and hilarious!
11. Make a friendship bracelet. (Activity, Loving Gift)
Literally, they’ll wear your love.
12. Coach them on their behavior when the heat is off. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
It’s more than discipline. Tell them also what they did well that day. Short & sweet keeps tension away. This is now my Best Behavioral Habit!
13. Write a quick note. (5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
”Sweetie, Hope you have a GREAT day. BIG Bisoux (kisses in French).”
14. Be the president of their fan club. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
Regularly call grandparents to report what the kids do well. Those sneaky children might not hear you when you ask about homework, but they’ll catch every word of this conversation!
15. Help them clean their room. (Activity, Act of Service)
Sometimes they are stuck in their own mess and don’t know where to start. Show them the way out of the mire. “First let’s put books on the shelves…now for the clothes…” Read on
16. Give them a chore at home. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
Work is love? Giving them responsibility shows you know they can do it. Even little tykes can learn to make their own bed! Read how 7 boys wanted their chores!
17. Help with a house chore. (5 Minutes, Act of Service)
Kids who regularly do chores know that doing a good job takes elbow grease. They’ll recognize your gift of time and effort when, on occasion, you (voluntarily and with a smile) do their job.
18. Inspect their work. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
Inspection = Opportunity for affirmation. Our grunge son cleans bathrooms like a charm…because his aunt taught him how, inspected his work, and (pictured right) gathered the whole family to admire and exclaim over it. He led the way to his moment of glory.
20. Play outside together. (Activity, Shared Moment)
Outdoor games are less tame than indoor ones. Get out of your comfort zone and into your child’s wild turf! Make HUMONGOUS bubbles. It’s hilarious.
21. Pick them up from school with a snack. (Activity, Act of Service)
In need of energy boost in mid afternoon? Watch out for the sugar in the snack. Too much and their blood sugar (and their humor and yours) will soar then dive.
22. Create your code for “I Love You.”(Activity, Shared Moment)
You’ll be able to tell your 10-year old or teenager “I Love You” without embarrassing them in front of friends.
23. Buy their favorite food. (30 Seconds, Loving Gift)
They might benefit from a clue: “Did you notice I bought __________ for you?” “Oh, thanks!”
24. Tell them “Thank You” (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
When my son said, "Thank you for saying ‘thank you,’” I realized those words were indeed magic.
25. Ask about their “High” and “Low” of the day. (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
Makes for easy, entertaining, and loving dinner conversations.
26. Share your “High” and “Low.” (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
Honor the kids by expressing your personal thoughts. You’re treating them like they’re big!
27. Invite one child into the kitchen while you cook dinner. (30 Seconds, Shared Moment)
Transform a chore into an opportunity for intimacy. We guard these “Rendezvous’” and invite siblings to keep out! The invitation only takes 30 seconds, and dinner prep time won’t change. You’ll be feeding your love as well as your tummies.
28. Enjoy a “Chef’s helper” treat.(5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
"Serve" carrot sticks, “Aperitif nuts,” a glass of grape juice served in a wine glass…while cooking dinner.
The kids will come into the kitchen to help more often! Only those that stay and chat/help get the treat.
29. Stop in mid-sentence and smile instead of giving a lecture. (30 Seconds, Loving Gift)
It’s a gift of momentary peace. Give them a gift certificate to remind you to stop!
30. Give them the benefit of the doubt. (30 Seconds, Loving Gift)
Good news & bad news: the issue will surely come up again and you’ll have another chance to deal with it.
31. Make learning fun. (15 Minutes, Act of Service)
When my nephew’s math needed boosting, my sister and he played “War” with flashcards. The first one to call out the sum of their numbers won the trick. All the cousins wanted to play!
32. Play bump-into-you. (30 Seconds, Loving Touch)
“Excuse me; there is just no room here!” Dad pretends to squirm through a crowd when it’s just the two of you…and it turns into a hug.
33. Give a rub-a-tub-tub. (5 Minutes, Loving Touch)
It’s a towel massage when princess steps out of the bath. “Wrap” her up and bounce her on her bed.
34. Roll him up in his comforter. (30 Seconds, Loving Touch)
Place junior in the middle of the bed with the comforter on top. Roll him towards you and tuck in the far cover. Roll him over the other way and tuck in the side close to you. Settle him on his back (with comforter edges secured under him), lift feet and tuck in the bottom edge. Snuggly!
35. Give her a massage when you say good-night. (5 Minutes, Loving Touch)
Loving bedtime routines assure him of your caring presence. That makes sleep come easier!
36. Drink a cup of warm milk before bed.
Warm milk contains a natural relaxant. Read about our bedtime routines. (15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
37. Go on a date. (Activity, Shared Moment)
She’s BEAMING as the two of them left for the show…leaving 3 siblings and Mom behind!
39. Cuddle together on the sofa. (15 Minutes, Loving Touch)
Ideal when watching a movie or reading out loud.
40. Measure his height on the edge of a door. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
“Look how much you’ve grown. I also notice it in the way you….” Help him appreciate the experiences that come with age. It’ll build your own credibility too. “Mom, I guess an older woman like you does know….”
41. Put your arm around his shoulders when you ask how school went. (30 Seconds, Loving Touch)
Even pre-teen and teenage kids do accept a brief and casual embrace.
42. Read a poem out loud. (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
It calms the kids down in no time. Try some funny short ones from the Puffin Book of First Poems. My favorite: Our Mother (she’s a detective. How did she know Junior raided the fridge?!)
43. Share a favorite saying about love. (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
A painter shared this thought when her young grandson died: “Isaiah 49:16* One cannot paint over an engraving. It lasts until the support breaks. And God's hand lasts forever. K___'s name is forever engraved in God's hand.”
44. Teach them a new song. (Activity, Shared Moment)
Dennis the Menace and his buddies sang “Happy Birthday” for their frog’s funeral “’coz it’s the only song we all know.” Build up their repertoire. Consider “We are the Champions”…or for Dennis’ dilemma belt out “When the Saints Go Marching In”
45. Enjoy her singing. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
”I love to hear kids sing. They’re happy,” my mom remarked. So, kindly tell the siblings you like her voice when they ask sis to be quiet.
46. Share his MP3. (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
Listen on for a song. Really listen. Make one interesting comment about the lyrics or music.
47. Share the story of his birth. (15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
Seat him in the special chair (decorated with balloons) and gather the family around to tell how this star was born.
48. Print out something interesting about his name. (5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
Remind the kids you loved them even before they were born; that’s why you chose their specific (precious) name. Click here for free info on names.
49. Buy him a hot water bottle. (5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
It’s cuddly, warm, stays close to you at night…just like your love. Click for our selection.
50. Fill up his hot water bottle. (5 Minutes, Act of Service)
Make it part of the bedtime routine. Stimulates snoozing.
51. Find one thing positive to say about your teen’s clothes. (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
It’s possible. “You’re sure getting good mileage from the mirror! Seriously, I appreciate that you care about the way you present yourself.”
52. Buy him a gift related to an area of conflict. (Activity, Loving Gift)
My hip boys wear their pants down low on the hips. My gift of funky underwear tells them “I’ll help you to be fashionable. Please listen when I ask you to be decent.” “OK, Mom. I’ll think about it.” Actions begin in the mind!
53. Give him a prize. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
Let him savor the taste of success. Help him describe it. Then help him recall it when facing another challenge. Click here for free awards to customize and print.
54. Show him pictures of you as a kid. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
Share stories. Pictures paint a thousand words and stories make them interesting! He’ll know he belongs knowing family tidbits.
55. Tell them about their grandparents and ancestors. (Activity, Shared Moment)
My namesake and great-grandmother crossed the US in a covered wagon. “Like Lucky Luke?!” Our family stories make history come alive.
56. Say something nice about a friend. (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
A positive reflection can open the way for a discussion on the qualities of good friends. (A critique often closes the door to such talks!)
57. Let her invite a friend. (Activity, Loving Gift)
One highly insightful way to learn about your own child!
58. Keep friends’ phone numbers handy. (Activity, Act of Service)
Isn’t the best time for kids to call friends when Mom & Dad’s hands are gooey with cooking? Easy access to their numbers makes it easier to invite friends.
59. Twirl together and be joyful. (5 Minutes, Loving Touch)
A loving touch all around. It's no wonder they're expressions like "dance with joy."
60. Be silent together. (15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
One of my favorites. Our family’s schedule is way too full and we all get frazzled…and bad humored. There is a spiritual beauty to silence. It’s a bonding moment with kids.
61. Read a book out loud (one chapter at a time).(15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
Enjoy this invitation to slow down, to cuddle, to read kids' literature…and to practice funny voices! Learn how from the best: Robin Williams.
62. Tell him what he taught you about love. (15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
Each child brings something unique to the family: From a dad, “I didn’t know I could love that much.” From a mom, “You teach me how much God the Father loves me. Just as I love you when you’re kicking and screaming in my arms, He loves me when I’m being self-centered!” “I guess He loves you all the time!!!”
63. Help them reach a simple goal. (15 Minutes, Shared Moment)
We built towers out of Lego that were so high they could Touch) the ceiling. The measurable goal encouraged teamwork: someone strengthened the base, several constructed segments, one assembled while many stabilized the tower, and we all grinned when we made it.
64. Help them save for a larger goal. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
“Honey, dream big and let’s work out how to get there.” Big dreams often need financing, so teach them to save.
66. Tell them one new thought about sex or drugs or rock n’ roll. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
After that one thought, drop the subject unless they pick it up. Respect their maturity and their readiness.
67. Have a laughing contest. (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
It may start serious, but it usually ends on the floor with genuine guffaws. Memory maker.
68. Put bubbles in the bath.(30 Seconds, Loving Gift)
Deluxe for him and you. It takes no time to prepare, you gain (5 minutes of calm, and your child feels pampered.
69. Put a bow on the ketchup and don’t say a word when he serves “too much.”(5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
Cooked a nice meal and they ask for Ketchup? Aaaagh! Choose your battles to win the war (the opportunity to be listened to over an important issue.)
70. Give her a compliment. (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
She also did 10 things that drove you crazy? Parents encourage the behavior they reward…and attention is a prize. Reward the positive.
71. Do the Family Annual Review. (Activity, Shared Moment)
Post “What he does well” somewhere visible and show off your child successes.
72. Notice how they are doing on their “job for the year.”
Show them you pay attention. (See Annual Review to help set the "job for the year")(30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
73. Give your child your FULL attention. (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
Stop and look him in the eyes. Forget that long list of business for just for a minute...or even 30 seconds!
74. Go swimming as a family. (Activity, Loving Touch)
Pool games like “climb on me” or “throw me higher” offer lots of healthy skin-to-skin contact…and photo opportunities.
75. Give him a sign that you’re about to blow your top before you really do it. (5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
Anger shows off our worst side...spare them! Read Break the Fighting Routine
76. Send a text: “Want something from the store?”(30 Seconds, Act of Service)
You’re there anyhow. Choose words like “special” or “want” and avoid “need.” You’ve already taken care of their necessities.
77. Text her: “tinkin of u”(30 Seconds, Loving Gift)
They might even tink of u + smile 2.
78. Schedule your kids’ activities on a PDA. (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
It’ll show him that he’s important to you. Forgetful-me needs that 15 minute warning ring. When the kids hear it, they ask, “Is that about me?”
79. Go to her when you want to speak.(30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
”DeuuuuuneeeeeEEEEEEse!” (My name is Denise) Who’d want to come running anyway? And in a good mood?!
80. Pray for your child (30 Seconds, Act of Service)
A quickie is still a goodie. A mom wrote in her favorite prayer: “May they grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” See the article's comments.
81. Pray with your child (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
In an Annual Review, my son indicated this as the one thing he most wanted me to continue. It’s a relaxed moment, often one-on-one, bathing your child in God’s love and your own.
82. Hold hands while you pray or envelop them in your arms. (30 Seconds, Loving Touch)
Double whammy the love. Yours and God’s combined.
83. “Name” a mug after your child. (5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
With porcelain market, inscribe your kid’s name on the bottom of a mug. Every time you drink from it pray for her or spend several Seconds thinking lovingly of him.
84. Use his drawing for a Window Art. (Activity, Loving Affirmation) .
Preserve and highlight your child’s drawings. We transfer them onto Plexiglas and use window paints. Simple art looks splendid, lasts long, and invites admiration.
85. Let them fail. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
Those 5 minutes are for you and me to go calm down when “calamity” strikes. The kids need to know we love them WITH their problems. If the family won’t, who will?
86. Compliment something other than the physique. (30 Seconds, Loving Affirmation)
Let their self value be built on qualities that can ripen with age: courage, generosity, honesty, thoughtful… Beauty and strength won’t carry them over the hill (per my kids, mine are gone!)
87. Introduce the kids to your adult friends. (15 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
When guests come, prepare the children to be able to say something interesting about themselves or their day. Your friends will enjoy your kids even more and they’ll tell you....and the kids hear it.
88. Put pictures of them around the house. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
Pictures attract eye. Your visitors will ask about those marvelous kids and give you the opportunity to show off your pride. Children are always listening. “Do you really think I have an engaging personality?”
89. Tumble together. (5 Minutes, Loving Touch)
Wrestle. Give them a bear hug. Don’t let go! After 5 minutes of rough housing, the risks of calamity grow exponentially.
90. Give her a small budget to buy what she wants. (5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
No strings attached. Freedom!
91. Go shopping with her to let her spend her money. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
Let her decide and pay. They feel so proud! And paretns learn how their kids think: “I got this candy. It does cost two times more than the other one, but it’s 10 times better!”
92. Prepare them for the unknown. (Activity, Shared Moment)
Calamity strikes us all…and we’re usually unprepared. Role play how you might handle tough situations. Download our thought-questions.
93. Commend them on the fridge door. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
We presented photos of the boys taking on a risk (riding a horse backwards, walking on a wire, rolling sushi…). Every visiting friend heads for the fridge. “You did THAT? Impressive.”
94. Observe them. (Activity, Loving Affirmation)
A mother recalls, “I watched M___ watch a fisherman. He was intent for 15 minutes and then realized the beauty of the casting movement. I watched him absorb from his surroundings.” Less of the parent, more of the child.
95. Give them a “Bundle of Joy.”(5 Minutes, Loving Gift)
3open it up to discover the bundle of joy!" It’s a mirror. Add a cosmetic mirror to your grocery store list and it’s a 5 minute gift that’s cherished for a long time.
96. Ask for his help. (5 Minutes, Loving Affirmation)
”Sweetheart, I need you please….” You’re showing confidence in their capabilities.
97. Let them give you a “farty” kiss. (30 Seconds, Loving Touch)
It makes that kind of noise. My son tried to give me one tonight and laughed so hard he couldn’t. We all roared…and felt loved.
98. Laugh at their joke. (5 Minutes, Shared Moment)
A mother shared: “I love it when they start playing my jokes back on me!” Peek-a-boo while walking down the street, noisy kisses…
99. Apologize first. (5 Minutes, Act of Service)
When is there a conflict with only one person?! It's the "wronged" one (usually Mom or Dad) who is most effective in taking the first step towards reconciliation. The "aggressor" feels defensive and builds up his fortress. The "victim" feels his rights are violated and even uses harsh words to say so! My all-too-vast experience taught me that it's more cuddly to be loving than to be right.
100. Practice what you preach. (A lifetime, Loving Affirmation)
Let children keep parents accountable to the family principles. When Mom is whining again at dinner, "Mom, the table is a place for pleasant conversaton and good manners!" When tensions escalate, listen when Joey-the-$*!@?? murmurs, "Still, a gentle answer turns away wrath and you have sharp words and they're stirring up anger." *
101. Tell them, “I love you.” (30 Seconds, Shared Moment)