Parenting is all about relationships. And really good parents realize that having great relationships with their kids doesn’t just happen by accident. Those relationships are created by commitment, hard work, and unconditional love.
Since most parents do love their children, it sounds like this should be easy, right? Well, most parents can also attest that this is simply not the case.
The problem lies in the fact that so many parents do not know how to convey unconditional love to their kids; and, as a result, their children do not feel loved.
For nurturing parents looking for a roadmap, there are some simple steps you can follow to make sure you are conveying unconditional love to your kids.
What Is Unconditional Love?
First, though, it’s important to understand what unconditional love really is. Unlike popular belief, unconditional love is not a soft, sentimental emotion. It is an intentional decision to relate to a child in a way that separates the person from their behavior, valuing them for who they are rather than for what they do.
Unconditional love also encourages responsibility. Being permissive is not unconditional love. In fact, a child raised in an environment with no rules or consequences will actually perceive it as a lack of love. So then, unconditional love helps children learn from their mistakes and coaches them to make healthy and safe choices.
Why is Unconditional Love so Important?
Research shows that unconditional love is the most important part of a child’s self-concept. A study conducted by The ARKGroup and the University of Texas School of Public Health found that a person’s self-concept (or how they feel about themselves) is made up of their “self-worth” and “self-esteem.” Self-worth has to do with performance and makes up a third of a person’s self-concept while self-esteem is created by unconditional love when a person is shown they are valued for who they are. This portion is two-thirds of a person’s self-concept.
What this means is that while it is important to help a child achieve and perform, providing them unconditional love is twice as important a factor in how they feel about themselves.
6 Practical Ways to Show Unconditional Love to Kids
Wondering how to provide unconditional love to your kids? Here are some simple ways that, when done consistently, can have profound results in your relationship with your child.
- Say I love you
One of the best ways to show love for a child is to frequently tell them “I love you.” A child’s heart hungers for these words so we should tell them every day.
- Verbal Affirmation
Look for opportunities to affirm your child verbally. Encouraging words like, “I’m glad you are my child,” or “I know you’ll make the right decision,” help build a child’s confidence and nurture your relationship.
- Physical Touch
Children have an incredible need for the loving touch of nurturing adults. Touching may take a variety of forms, from playful wrestling or a pat on the back to hugging and kissing; but the need to be touched in positive ways is as real and necessary as the need for air and water.
- Eye Contact
While it’s easy to try to multi-task when listening to your kids, eye contact is an important element in providing parental love. “Giving your eyes” to your child when he or she is talking tells them that you care about what they are saying, and ultimately, that you care about them.
- One-on-one Time
Another technique for showing love is individual attention. This means giving a child your full, undivided attention – the sort of attention that allows a child to feel special and important. Psychologists encourage parents to give a minimum of ten minutes of individual attention to each child every day.
Another important way to express unconditional love is empathy. Empathy requires understanding and compassion. Instead of judging a child’s feelings, empathy helps a child understand their feelings and proper ways to manage them.
These small steps to show unconditional love to your child can have a big impact on your child’s self-concept. And, using these techniques consistently will help you build healthy, trusting relationships with your children through all stages of their development.
For more parenting resources, visit www.thearkgroup.org.
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