to Say "I Love You" with Meaning
By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
"I love you," are three words all children need to hear
often from their parents. Do you want those words to have real meaning
to your child? Do you want them to connect one heart to another?
Do you want to use them to develop a level of intimacy in your family
that communicates your heartfelt affection for your children? If
so, consider strengthening I love you with the following suggestions.
Use Eye Contact. Give your children your eyes when you say, "I
love you." Souls touch when meaningful eye contact is made
during moments of intimacy. Touch with your eyes. It's a way of
connecting that helps you bond.
Touch. A pat on the back, a hug, or a high-five will add meaning
to verbal expressions of love. So will a slight squeeze of the shoulder
or a kiss. Take your child's hand in yours when you say, "I
love you," and add a tactile component to your words.
Use names. The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your
own name. Names get our attention, build connectedness and help
us connect. Sadly, some children only hear there own names when
they are in trouble. ("William, you better get in here!")
Add your child's name to your expression of love. "I love you,
Carlos," or "Tadahito, I really love you." Watch
their reactions. Their facial expressions will encourage you to
continue the practice of adding your child's name to, "I love
Use the words son and daughter .These two words can add intense
intimacy to your verbal expressions of love. "I love you, son,"
or "I love you, daughter," will create an emotion filled
statement that will invite an equally emotional response. Monitor
your personal comfort level as you use these two important words.
Notice your feelings as you say them as well as the reaction you
get from your children.
Add non-verbal signals to your spoken message. Smile, wink, and
add pleasant facial expressions to your words. Make sure the message
on your face is congruent with the one coming out of your mouth.
Do not use the word when as part of your vocal communication of
love. "I love you when you smile like that," or "When
you choose that happy mood, I love you," sends a message to
your children that your love is conditional. Children often near,
"I only love you when
." To love unconditionally,
say "I love you," without any condition attached.
Remove the word but from your description of love. "I love
." Is usually followed by a concern, problem,
or frustration. When we express our love along with a concern we
send a mixed message. When we do this children get confused and
conclude that the love part is a manipulation intended to soften
them up before the real message is delivered.
Add because you are loveable to your manner of expressing love.
"I love you because you are loveable," is an important
concept to help children appreciate. It helps them understand that
your love is attached to nothing. It simply is. Be careful not to
add any other words after because. "I love you because you
are thoughtful," adds a condition that communicates conditional
love. The only acceptable phrase to use with because is because
you are loveable.
9. Say "I love you" at unexpected times. Children often
hear our expressions of love at familiar times. We typically say
"I love you" when we are going out the door on our way
to work. We say it when we end a phone conversation. "I love
you" is often the last communication our children hear as we
tuck them into bed at night. "I love you" at those times
is often expected and certainly anticipated. To heighten the impact
of these three valuable words, use them at unexpected times. Say
them in the middle of a meal, as you are driving down the road in
your car, or as you stand at the kitchen sink doing dishes together.
children are auditory and near to hear the words, "I love you."
Others are tactile and need to be touched to feel loved. Still others
are visual and need to see love on your face and in your actions.
Why not give your children all three variations when you communicate
Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments:
Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities
on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish
a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more
information about how they can help you or your group meet your
parenting needs, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com