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Seven Playful Ways to Tell Your Children 'I Love You'

In honor of Valentine’s Day celebrated next month, I want to share with you some fun and playful ways to tell your children, “I love you.”  Do you know how your kids receive love from you? Do you know the best way to show your kids that you love them? Here are seven ways to show your love with your time, your words, your hands and the messages taught from the heart.

1. Write a short letter on their napkins you include in their lunch boxes saying things like, “I think you’re pretty special”, “I hope your day is blessed.”  Write “I love you” on their bananas with a pen and draw a heart. Slip them a silly note in their lunch box or jacket pocket. This lets them know you are thinking of them, they are important to you and will put a smile on their face.

2. Have a thirty minute spa vacation at home. Make bath time extra special with bubble bath, and pink and red bathtub paints drawing words like, “You are the best”, “I sure do love you”, “I’m glad you’re my son”. To make your own bathtub paint, mix a few drops of food coloring into a dollop of shaving cream in a bowl. Let kids paint the walls of the tub or themselves for some foamy fun. Be careful to check that the paints won't stain fixtures or skin before it’s spa time.

3. Take a trip down memory lane. My six year old daughter loves for me to tell stories to her about when she was "little." We also enjoy watching videos together from previous birthdays, holidays or vacations that I have posted in the past for friends and family on Facebook.  It is one true blessing of technology, a quick way to put your child on your lap and tell them the story of their lives. Another way to relive old memories is to pull out their baby books.  My son loves flipping through the pages for me to read to him about when he was born and seeing photos of everyone who wrote a love note to him welcoming him into the world.

4. Sing it! In music class, we sing a song with the words, “I love you, I love you from your head all the way down to your toes. I love you, I love you from your head all the way down to your toes. So when you reach up high, and when you reach down low, just remember I love you, I love you from your head all the way down to your toes. Tight squeeze (big hug), cool breeze (blow sweetly in their faces), and I love you. Tickle, tickle, tickle! (Not a real tickle, just a fun, light tickle will do and will bring on the smiles and the laughter.) Make up your own I love you song or look up and learn “Skidamarink”, the old time I love you children’s favorite originally the grand finale song of the 1910 Broadway musical, "The Echo."

5. Say it! Phrases that speak I love you are, “I’m proud of you”, “You did great!”, “I’m glad I’m your mom (or dad)”, “I adore you”, “You’re the apple of my eye”, “I couldn’t imagine my life without you”, “You’re the best son (or daughter) ever!”, “I admire your hard work”, “I cherish you”, “I enjoy spending time with you”, “You make life fun!”, “Tell me about your day” and “My day isn’t complete without a hug from you”. If your children are little, get on your knees and when you use one of these phrases and look directly in their eyes so they can feel it.

6.  Read "just one more book" even if it's late and you're tired. And don't forget to read to older children who already know how to read themselves. It's a great opportunity to snuggle, and in our family we call this “bonding time”. My children now know to come and ask me, “Mommy can we have bonding time?”  Use eye contact between the pages and ask questions so they can interact. A few of our favorites are Guess How Much I Love You, Love You Forever and The Runaway Bunny.

7. At the dinner table play "Roses and Thorns". Pass an artificial rose around the dinner table, sharing your “rose” of the day, or the best part of your day, and then a “thorn”, something challenging in your day you would like to overcome. Whoever is holding the rose gets to share, and everyone else is instructed to silently listen. A game like this helps the family understand that they really do care about each other. It teaches the family to wait patiently for their turn, listen intently, reflect what they have heard and connects the whole family from the heart.  

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