February 6, 2016

LOVE Your Kids Smart

As an educator for almost 20 years, I can never take for granted the importance of building relationships with kids. It turns out that loving your kids is not only important in raising healthy happy kids–it also makes them smarter! According to new research, ““love” -or the absence of- “love” is the single most important variable in the successful development of well-being in our children.”

Researchers at Duke University project recently studied the responses of preschoolers and kindergarteners on what they thought of the word “love”.  They found:

“the more you show love to your children with a hug, a kiss, a smile, unconditional positive regard, by including them, being interested in them, through family based play, and so much more of the nurturing type of communication, the bigger their brains grow.”

(Read more about it here.)

Love your Kids Smart

Little kids define love from parents as hugs, kisses, giving them compliments and spending time with them through play (I know, I know, you are getting tired of Candy Land, but you can play it again, just one more time!)

LOVE your kids smart

My girls made this with an AMAZING babysitter for me for Valentines Day. All it took was photo prints from Walgreens, a plain white canvas (purchased from an art store) and red construction paper hearts. Why not try making something similar featuring pictures of your little one and what you love about them?

Bigger kids and especially tweens and teen define love from parents as helping them with a special interest or activity, and even more important–listening to them. As a former middle and high school teacher and now mom of 5th grade twins, I know what a difference it makes to listen to your kids. This isn’t always easy, as tween/teens can be cagey when you ask them about their day (“fine”) or how they are doing in school (“OK”). That’s why in our family we enjoy using “check-ins.” In that regard, I wrote up a few of my favorite check-ins I do with my gilrs at the dinner table or on road trips. You can find them here.

There are also other ways parents can show their love for their kids. I have slipped love notes in the girls lunch boxes for years. We also snuggle a lot and do silly good-night kisses.

Even though we do a lot of “lovin'” in our house, I am always looking for more ways to show our girls they are special. That said, I found a really great list of other ideas by  titled 21 Little Things Every Parent Can Do To Make Kids Really Feel Loved. It’s well worth a read and includes some tried and true ideas like: dancing with your kids, or making the a favorite meal, to other new ones (for me) like sending them joke texts or making them a “life story book”. (Check out more ideas here.)

In that regard, and with Valentines Day coming up… I’m interested in learning some new ideas from you dear readers on ways you show love to your kids.

How do you show your kids you love them? Please share in the comments below!

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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