From those first kisses mom and dad give us when we are babies, to that cozy feeling we get as adults when we visit over the holidays, family is the strongest source of love in our lives. We all know that love and family are essential. So what we can we do as parents to make sure that the people closest to us know they are, indeed, loved? Based on what we were taught as children and what we see in the culture and society we live in, we all have a different language of love.

Our kids are our biggest measure of our language of love and they understand that it’s the little everyday things that show love. What “language of love” do you speak? Here are some of them.

Words of encouragement can show your love. Our emotional language can uplift and support our family even if we’re just commenting on a well-executed task or providing advice to help navigate a difficult situation. Even as toddlers we all liked to hear “good job!” and be recognized for our efforts. When someone really listens to our stressed-out rants and gives us reassurance that everything is okay, we feel supported and loved. In the dramatic tween and teen years, just being there to listen and encourage can go a long way to show your children they’re valued.

Spending quality time with someone can also show that you love them. Even if you don’t have the time to plan a vacation together, getting into a routine that promotes quality time at home can make your family members feel like they’re a priority. Some families have special things they do together, like movie night or father-daughter outings. Working together on a project or helping with homework are also great ways to express your love while helping kids learn at the same time. Spending mealtime together is a particularly important way of showing you care — children who have meals with their families are less likely to skip school and have lower obesity rates. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is also a great way to demonstrate your love — a book, a song, and a kiss on the forehead can make your children feel secure as they head off to the land of nod.

Giving gifts can show your love. Not all gifts need to be extravagant, and the best gifts are thoughtful. A gift relating to something a child is interested in or a random surprise gift always makes kids feel special. In college, when children are first attempting to navigate the rough waters of adulthood, a surprise care package from a parent or grandparent can lift their spirits.

Even small acts of kindness can make a big impact. Making someone’s favorite meal is a great way to express your love; taking time to make something that nourishes and warms your family is one of the most caring gestures there is.

And last but not least – physical touch. Physical affection is one of the sincerest forms of expressing love, from a simple pat on the back to a lift-you-off-the-ground bear hug. A bad day can be completely transformed by a warm, encouraging embrace.

Remember the old adage “actions speak louder than words.” Let your actions prove your love for your family when words don’t seem like enough. Keep expressing the love you have for your family and it will feed and sustain you in return.

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” ~David Viscott


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