Many parents worry that they can’t shower their child with expensive toys and outings, and that by not doing so, they aren’t showing their love. The good news is that affection and love have nothing to do with money, and no matter what age your child is, there are plenty of sweet ways to show you care.
At birth to six months old, the most important ways of showing your child you love him or her is to combine touch and your voice. Sing to your child as you rock him or her or tell your child you love him or her, while you gently caress them.
By six to twelve months old, your child is likely to be moving around a lot more, and it’s time for games! Play catch with your child, crawling around together, and making ‘catching’ your child part of the fun. Make up songs or stories with your child’s name in them too. You could even write them down so that your child remembers throughout childhood and beyond that you love him or her.
At 12 to 18 months, games like horsey, or those that incorporate a little unpredictability, are likely to be a big hit, and teach your child that everything has a beginning, middle and end. Between one and a half and two years old, take those games further. Spend time playing with your toddler outside, stomping in mud puddles (with boots of course) or pretending to be dogs, and lapping from bowls together. Invent new stories where your child is the star and tell them at bedtime. Find ways to allow your child to explore and imagine and you’ll be showing your child that you love him or her.
By two to four, you should be teaching your child responsibility, but that doesn’t mean an end to fun! Turn tidying your child’s room into a game, or turn cleaning into a mission to attack germs. Place your child’s creations in a special home gallery, and show them to people who visit. Everything that makes your child feel included and special also tells him or her how much you love them.
By four to six, there’s nothing more exciting to your child than to set their own rules. Show your child you love him or her by allowing your child to set one or two rules of his or her own. Declaring Friday night pizza night, or extending bedtime a little are good examples of this. You can also start a book or board where you make a note every day of one thing you appreciate about your child.
By six to eight, there are even more ways to show your child you love them. Have a large picture of your child laminated, and every day, write a word on it that describes them. Or make a ‘fun bowl’ and let your child come up with silly and fun ideas that you can use whenever he or she says ‘I’m bored.’ These could be something simple like making a special meal or snack or a game that you all play together.
The most important way to show your child that you love him or her is to spend time with your child and to engage with them. Sitting in front of the television, even if you shower your child with material things, will never show them how much you care.