“Mommy do you want to play figurines with me? Only for a couple minutes because I know you don’t like playing figurines.” That was my daughter a few months ago. To be honest that’s even hard for me to write because I’m disappointed in myself. I never want my kids to think I don’t want to play with them and it felt like she wanted me to say yes so badly that she shortened her expectations just in the hopes I would say yes.
I’m telling you this story because I think oftentimes moms are so overwhelmed, busy, or stressed with work and our everyday lives, that we forget to intentionally connect with our kids.
When my daughter made that comment, I immediately made a promise to myself to be more present with my kids and be even more affectionate with them.
Connecting with your toddler now, sets up a strong relationship for you guys in the future. When toddlers have a strong, affectionate, confident relationship with you, there are life long positive outcomes.
They are more likely to be independent if they’re secure in your relationship with them. They will have higher self-esteem, do better academically, and have better communication with you.
I 1,000% want that for my kids and I know you do too!
10 Simple Ways To Show Your Toddler You Love Them
1. Put electronics away
When you’re with your kids, be with them. Make it a point to spend 15-30 minutes with them fully engrossed in an activity with them. You could be playing dolls, rolling a ball around, playing dress up, playing dinosaurs, working on puzzles, reading a story, anything! Just make sure the T.V. isn’t on, your phone isn’t nearby, and no tablets! Your kids will feel fulfilled and they’ll love having undivided attention from you.
2. Be affectionate with them
Give your kids hugs, kisses, hold hands, rub their backs, or snuggle with them. Touch is a really important sense for kids and it helps both you and them to connect. Many times you use physical affection as a way to reconnect with your child when you guys had a rough moment. But don’t forget to be affectionate in the small moments too! My daughter loves to sit on my lap and hold my hand. Both my kids love hugs and kisses. Physical affection is a great way to show your toddlers you love them!
3. Look them in the eye
When they are talking or you’re talking to them, look them in the eye. It shows them you aren’t distracted with anything else and you are solely focused on them. They will feel good that you want to hear what they have to say. If it’s possible, try getting down to their eye level to talk with them. This is a powerful way to show your kids what they have to say matters.
4. Smile when you speak to them
When you are talking with your kids, smile! Oftentimes moms are stressed, busy, frustrated, or feeling rushed. When you feel like that, you forget how you come across to your kids. I didn’t realize how I came off to my kids until my daughter asked me one day if I was mad and I said no and asked her why she thought that. She said because my face looked mad. That was an ‘aha’ moment for me because I realized I don’t smile that often when I’m just talking, (not because I’m laughing). I made a real effort to smile more when my kids talk to me or when I start to talk to them. Honestly, it made a huge difference. When I approach my kids with a smile or when I start talking to them and I have a big smile on my face, they instantly light up. They become happy because you’re happy!
5. Ask them what they want to do
Many times toddlers are led to do activities we want them to do. We make them go to the store, we make them take a nap, we make them go to the library, or on play dates. Make an effort to ask them what they want to do. When I tell my kids to pick an activity, they get super excited because I’m offering to do something they really love. It’s a great way to bond with your kids when you’re an active participant in something they love doing.
It can be maddening when your toddler takes forever to explain themselves so you may try to hurry them up by finishing their sentence for them. Don’t. Make an effort to open your ears and just listen to what they have to say. This is another great way to show your child that what they have to say matters to you. When you truly listen to your child, they feel important and cared about.
7. Read books
Reading to your child has so many benefits. One benefit is that it’s a great bonding experience for you both. You can also cuddle or your child can sit on your lap while you read. It’s a great time to put any electronics away as well to further the bonding experience.
8. Set up a routine
We all have tough days when we yelled too much, or worked long hours so we didn’t get to see our kids much before bed. So setting up a special routine will help you show your kids how much you love them every single day no matter what. One of our routines is before bedtime, I snuggle with each of my kids and I share a few reasons I think they are amazing. I tell them I’m so happy they’re my babies and I’m so lucky I’m their mommy. They always have huge smiles on their faces before they go to bed. It fills their hearts up before they go to sleep and what better way to fall asleep than feeling loved??
9. Get silly
Laughing is always a good way to win over your toddlers heart. Toddlers love laughing and they love getting silly! You can make funny faces, sing silly songs, read funny books, or anything else that gets you and your kids cracking up!
10. Tell them
There’s a lot of ways you can show your toddler you love them. But don’t forget to actually tell them you love them. And tell them all the time!
Life isn’t always rainbows and sunshine with toddlers. But by hitting pause on that chaotic or stressful day to show your toddler you love them, it’ll help you bond, it improves both of your moods, it improves their behavior, and benefits your relationship.
So go get your love on mama!