100 Ways to LOVE your Child! Simple ways to Put Meaningful, Loving Moments Into Your Busy Parenting Day…

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There are MANY Ways to Say “I Love You! …My favorite Mr. Rogers song. Well, at least the one I’m singing this week for “Valentine’s Day” in my pre-school music classes….Here are some favorites from my own family, along with some new ideas!  Please let them inspire you and pass them along. Got more ideas? Please add them in the comments so others can enjoy. This is a great FREE resource to print out, and grab a little idea for inspiration from it every morning as you’re getting dressed or brushing your teeth (I know, that doesn’t happen every day for some of you. I’ve been there.) Here’s what I picture: your copy will get tattered and torn from use over the years, lots of checkmarks and little happy faces jotted down by the ones your kids really respond to, your own ideas and variations scribbled on…..it should last you for years!   Listen and learn the wonderful Mr. Rogers song (there is a loud ad you can skip…)

“The best expression of love is time. The best time to express that love is now….”

Morning Routines:

  1. Share a morning “family snuggle” in the bed before you start the day..
  2. Or a “couch cuddle” and story together before starting in on the morning chores…
  3. Share a “Rooster rock” in the rocking chair – begin with a “cock-a-doodle-doo”! And then maybe…
  4. Sing a morning medley as you get ready or as you head to school (“This is the Day”, “Good Morning, Good Morning”, “Good Morning to You”, “Put on a Happy Face”, “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”, etc…)
  5. Say Good morning to body parts with loving touch and a soothing or playful voice.
  6. Add to your dream journal together…can they remember anything special? Want to color a picture or write it down?
  7. Open the blinds together, and say “Good Morning” to your child’s expanding world as you look out the window together – grass, trees, cars, God, birds, etc…Watch me saying “Good Morning” with my niece… with songs and exercises.
  8. Move to the “Morning March” together at 7:35am on WRR Classical 101.1 – This will turn on your brain and body, and start the day with a positive attitude.
  9. Share “table talk” at breakfast, even if you can only sit down together for a couple of minutes. “What are you most excited about doing today?…Who are you hoping to play with?…I wonder what you’ll have for snack,” etc…
  10. How Do I Love You? Let me count the ways. As you button a shirt or snap up pants, tell your child something you love about them for each button/ snap…
  11. Sing a song as you put on shoes to encourage cooperation and a positive attitude. This is a good one for signing “shoes” (make 2 fists and tap them together in front of you, side to side) and “helpful” (raise a fist with a thumbs up from the outstretched palm of the other hand). Change the words to fit what it is your child needs to “put on” or do…The idea is to LABEL the good ways you want your child to cooperate before she has the chance not to. (I got this song from Becky Bailey who has lots of great rhyme/ song suggestions.)

Mama’s smart girl is precious, precious, mama’s smart girl is loved so much.
Mama’s smart girl will go to school, 
Mama’s smart girl will ride the Mommy bus.
Put on your socks, put on your shoes, Goin’ to school is wonderful news!
Put on your shirt, put on your pants, _____ is doing the helpful dance!

12. When their “morning chores” are complete, let them set aside a toy or activity that they want to share with you “after school” for “Mommy and Me” play, and they can look forward to that all day.

13. Family “breath”. Once you’ve made it into the car together, just take a collective breath after the morning rush to center yourselves for the day. Say a prayer, or just spend a moment of silence together. “Phew! What a crazy morning. We made it to the car! Let’s all take a deep breath together, and get ready for a great day....”

14. Connect in the Car. Stay unplugged from ipads and cell phones, and BE together – singing, shoulder/ elbow/ eyebrow dancing, wishing people well, having a “car conversation”, looking for colors/ letters/ shapes out the window, etc.

Drop-Off Rituals

15. With a “Kissing Hand” like the sweet raccoons from “The Kissing Hand” book by Audrey Penn. It doesn’t wash off!

16. Put a “Circle of Love” around them, reminding them that your love and God’s love for them are never-ending, and that you will be thinking of them throughout the day.

17. Use a line from a favorite book you’ve read together like, “Be wise. Be brave. Be careful.” from The Magic Tree House series or “I love you to the moon and back!” from Guess How Much I Love You  or “I love you, I love you, My Dinosaur!” from How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen/ Mark Teague ” Read my post: 14 Favorite Phrases of Love for your Little Valentines/ Book-Lovers”

18. Sing a quick song dedicated to them – “Jesus Loves Me”, “This is the Day”, “If You’re Happy and You Know it, share a smile…“, “You Are My Sunshine

19. Use a silly rhyme: “I love you once, I love you twice, I love you more than beans and rice,” and kiss them on each cheek.

20. Hand them an encouraging note or postcard to read when they get to their locker or desk.

21. Give them a special picture of yourself waving or blowing a kiss to them that they can look at when they miss you.

22. Pack a little “lunchbox love” with a sweet note for your kiddo.

23. Remind them that “Mommy/ Daddy always comes back!” 

24. Tell them “I Carry Your Heart with Me!” and make a heart-shape with your hands.

25. Give them a blessing:

(for boy)

“God bless you and your work today, 

As you learn and as you play.

Remember, you’re my special guy, 

I love you more than apple pie!”

 (or snowflake pie or pumpkin pie, etc…depending on the season)

(for girl)
“God bless you and your work today, 
As you learn and as you play.
You’re my girl, and I love you
Mommy/ Daddy is SO proud of you!”
(or “more than peanut butter stew!”) 

Re-Uniting:

26. Share a “Welcome Back Kiss” with this simple poem…”You’ve been gone and you’ve been missed. Where would you like your welcome back kiss?” They get to choose – elbow? chin? cheek? And you get one, too!

27. Sign “happy” (flat hand simply moves up a couple times on chest as it “bubbling up” with happiness) and say, “I’m so happy to see you!” Every time. Make your eyes light up!

 28. Tell your child you were thinking fondly of them….while they were on the playground, while they were in science, while they were having rest time…(know their schedule)

29. Have a “Car Conversation”Ask some specific questions like: “What was your favorite thing you did on the playground today?” ,”Who did you sit next to at snack time?” , “What was your favorite toy you played with in class today?” , “What books did you read today?”, “Did you get a chance to help a friend today?” 

30. Reach back and grab their foot, “Oh, I’m so glad you remembered to bring your left foot home from school – I love this foot!” 

31. Dedicate a song. Say, “I got a special song ready to play just for you!” and play a song like “Skinnamarink” or “You are my Sunshine” to welcome them back. Have it cued up and ready….. (See a silly video of me and my kids singing this song for grandma, watch video)

32. Give them a “seat surprise”! Nothing fancy, just something simple…. A little love note, an old photo, a simple drawing you colored for them, a picture cut out of a magazine that made you think of them, a “clue” about what you have planned for the rest of the day (library bag, name of a friend you are gonna have a play date with, etc.)

33. Share “Story, snack, and snuggle” on the couch when you get home. Have it all set up for them….

34. Share your special “Mommy and me” play with the toy they set out….Or let them know that you set out a surprise activity for you all to “play” together – give them a few clues, and make it a game.

35. Provide a “listening lap” somewhere at the school before you leave or at home and say, “Tell me anything and EVERYTHING! I can’t wait to hear ALL about your day!”

Yummy Love:

36. Heart-shaped sandwiches or Cut fruit into hearts (strawberries, melons)

37. Write “I Love you” with honey/ icing on oatmeal, jelly on toast, etc.

38. Spell “I love you” with letter cheez-its or grahams (works well on a Scrabble letter-holder)

39. Heart-shaped cake, cupcakes/ muffins (or serve regular food out of these containers!)

Loving Touch:

40. “Kissy-Monster” or “Tickle-Monster” – anytime the word “monster” is involved, the kids will have fun! (Not so sure if this will work for your teens…) Found a cute book by Josie Bissett…

41. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, What a Wonderful Child You Are!” – Learn the Loving/ Playful Rhyme that involves touching fingertips, heads, feet, and a BIG hug!

42. Fishy-kiss with silly fish-lips

43. Butterfly Kisses – eyelashes on cheek

44. Nose-to-nose Kiss: “Nose, nose, be careful not to miss as you touch it to Mommy’s for a nose-to-nose kiss!” (They love to miss!)

45. Snake-hug: with hands as the heads, and arms wrap around each other and “hiss” while squeezing!

46. Daddy or Mommy-Constrictor (squeeze them tight with your whole)

47. Share a “Octopus Hug” (from the great book Octopus Hug) – you count up to 8 as you wrap (8) arms and legs around kid. (Helps if you’re rolling on the floor) Read about more of my favorite “Connection” books


48. Write a secret message for them on their body: Draw “I – heart- you” with your finger on the palm of their hand, their back, or tummy. (It’s also fun to guess shapes and letters)

49. Give them a special hug or kiss: Draw an “x” or “o” on their bodies.

50. Make up your own secret “handshake”!

51. Pat a love song on their body – can they name that song by the rhythm?

52. Squeeze a Secret “I love you” (as you’re holding hands) – 3 squeezes

53. Share a loving “wink” across the room. (3 winks = “I love you.”)

54. Squeeze each finger on one hand saying one word for each finger, “I love you (first name) (middle name.)” or “I love you, blue kangaroo!” and let them do it to you, too!

55. Sign “I love you” across the room. (2 ways: with one hand, middle and ring fingers folded down, or point to yourself, cross arms over chest, and point to your child)

56. Boo-Boo? After you bandage it, use this little rhyme, “Love it, kiss it, stroke it, bless it. 3 days sunshine, 3 days rain, little ______ all well again.” 

Loving Language:

57. Are you taking care of a sick little one? Sing “I’m taking care of you” by Mr. Rogers (Listen to Song)

58. Call them over for a loving secret: Whisper something like: “You’re my sunshine boy!”, “You are a beloved child of God, and I’m so glad you’re my daughter!” or  simply “You are SO loved.”

59. Proud Praise – Let them overhear you praising them to someone else – on the phone, in conversation, to a teacher, to “the president” on your “banana phone”, etc.

60. Reassure them about their safety: “Mommy would never leave without you! You are too important and special to me.”

61. Say a prayer for them aloud for them to hear… or Speak a short “thankful prayer” for your time with them: “Thank you God for a walk with my daughter.”“Thank you God for this special reading time with my son.”

62. Quote scripture: ‘You are my beloved child, with whom I am well-pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

63. Share “good things” at the end of each day or at meal-time together.

64. Say “I love holding your left hand!” as you find yourself walking across the street or through a parking lot together.

65. Say “My very favorite thing is just to be with YOU!” as you do mundane errands or chores together.

66. Sing “Ooh, I like to be with you, just you and me….let’s ______ together, we are family..” (fill in the blank: walk, skip, shop, drive, etc.)

67. When you set your work/ tasks aside to listen or play just BE with your child, remind your child that “Yes, Mommy is busy. But you are always MOST  important to me.”

68. Watch/ Listen/ Sing along to Mr. Rogers “It’s You I Like” Song: Watch him sing it to sweet Jeff

69. After a tantrum or disagreement, remind your child, “I can handle whatever you do because I love you through and through.” 

70. When your child is misbehaving, remind them, “You are such a wonderful/ kind/ loving person. How can I help you feel more like yourself again?”

71. Still having trouble understanding your child’s misbehavior. Literally put on your heart-shaped glasses to try to see them through a more loving and empathetic light. (Get everyone in the family a pair to use when they want to try to be more loving.)

72. Tell your child what you love about them….Say, “I love the way you are ____________” or  “I love the way you _________.”…”I just love to watch you dance/ play/ hear you sing, etc.”

73.  Notice what your child loves. “I notice you really seem to enjoy _______.”…  “I notice you are really focused on ______.”

 74. Slip a love-note under their door or pillow at night.

Play-Time:

75. Skip and Smile together….better yet, challenge yourselves to do the impossible: skip without smiling! Sing “Skip to My Lou” and “Lou, Lou, How I Love You…How I Love You, My Darlin’” . 

76. Swing and Sing: “Swing, Swing, Swing Swing, up in the sky so blue. Swing, Swing, swing, swing, Mommy/ Daddy loves you.” Learn the Song/ Watch video

77. Do a bounce!  (great for face-time, balance, rhythm, and FUN!) “Bounce, Bounce, Bounce to my Lou…“, ““Little Red Wagon”, or “Love Somebody and it’s You, You, You

78. Do a hand-rhyme…Learn my version of “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”(Watch me and MJ) or “Hot Cross Buns” – face each other for some loving eye contact and touch as you enjoy this simple hand rhyme. For “hot cross buns” it’s Knees, clap, together. For “One a penny”, reach across to shake hands, then reach across with the other hands for “two a penny”.

79.“Rock, Paper, Scissors” with a loving twist – if you both get rock, you share a fist bump.  If you both get scissors, you share a “scissor hug” with fingers. If you both pick paper, share a high five!

80. “Mother May I” (when they get to “Mother”, they get a BIG hug!)

81. “Freeze Tag” (but you have to get a hug to get unfrozen)

82. Make “strawberry shortcake” with your hands….take turns layering your hands on top of each other as you say, “cake, berries, cream, cake, berries, cream, etc.” How fast can you go? How many people can you include? What  other ingredients do they want to include?

83. Draw a line in the sand: At the beach or just at the playground sand box? Don’t miss an opportunity to write “I love you”! (Works well in mud and dirt and snow, too!)

84. Play “Hide and Seek” and when you find your child, make it a BIG deal: “There you are! I’m so glad I found you. I missed you. I love you SO much!” and (with younger kids) Play “Peek-a-boo” and say “Where’s that little boy/ girl that I love so much?

85. When you sing a favorite “love” song like “You Are My Sunshine” or “Snuggle Puppy”, ask what style they would like: country-western? Opera? Rap? Dramatic Reading? SO fun!

86. Spend time doing your child’s favorite thing with them. What do they LOVE to do? (Ask them every month…it will keep changing.)

87. Share some of your other special “loves” with your child because you love them! Favorite music, favorite books, movies, activities, memories, places, etc.

Bath/ Bedtime:

88.Towel Taco” – Wrap them up tight in a towel after drying them off, then act like you forgot to add the guacamole, lettuce, cheese, etc…as you keep unwrapping them and spreading lotion on or just pretending…

89. Massage – tell your child (babies on up) that you are going to show them you love them with your hands. Spread towel out, rub lotion or oil on arms, legs, feet, hands, shoulders, tummy, back (C-shape hands, constant touch, heart-shape on chest/ tummy), hum or sing a calming song, or just speak with your calming voice as you chant body parts or thank God for all the wonderful things each body part helps you do…

90. Write “I love you” on a steamy mirror!

91. Look in the mirror together – Say “I love you just the way you are.” or “You are beautiful from the inside-out!” …”What a precious child of God!”…”You are wonderfully made!“….Sing “Love Somebody, Yes I Do” (love your nose, love your eyes, love your smile, etc.)

92. Sing “Rock-a-bye, Baby” with a twist (put in child’s name for “baby”), but at the end instead of “Down will come baby, cradle and all” sing “Mommy/ Daddy will catch you, cradle and all” as you rock forward, catch them and hold them tight…

93. Tuck in their fingers one by one, kissing each one, thumb last, then rock their hands.

94. Share some loving “Pillow Talk”.

95. Say goodnight to body parts in a soothing voice as you share loving touch, “Good night eyebrow, goodnight other eyebrow”, etc…

96. Put sweet dreams into your child’s head as you gently rub their forehead… “teddy bears and lollipops”, “butterflies and rainbows”, “building the tallest block tower in history”, “riding in a hot air balloon with Mommy”, etc….

97. Make a Special Bedtime Mix – with special love songs and lullabies, perhaps with intros recorded by you about how these songs remind you of them, special memories, and a favorite bedtime story in your voice.

98. Phone it in….Away from home? Child away from you? Share your “good things” over the phone, and send some long-distance love.

99. Make a bedtime “sandwich” with Mommy and Daddy as the bread, and kids as the meat or cheese – squeeze it tight in the panini press!

100! Share your special loving “tuck in” phrase. Mommy always says ________! “I love you as high as the sky!”… “I’ll see you in my dreams.”…. Is it from a favorite book? “I love you to the moon and back.” (see 14 of my favorites, 14-favorite-phrases-of-love-for-your-little-valentines-book-lovers/)

Happy Valentine’s Day from My Valentines to Yours!

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a "mini-magna-dodle" love note from MJ in the car

 

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 Ellie whispers secrets to cousin Poppy

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Comments

  1. Adrienne says:

    I love, love, LOVE Mommy Manders! Just reading all these ideas lifts my heart and will make me a better Mommy tomorrow. YOU are amazing!