I love books that include “how to’s” along with their principles and instructions. Abstract opinions and lofty ideas don’t do a whole lot for me; but show me how to be a better wife, a better mother, or a better cook, and I’m with you all the way.

In their book, The Five Love Languages of Children, authors Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, offer some wonderful suggestions for building warm and lasting relationships with the little people in your life.

artwork by Mary Cassatt, from allposters.com

Here are a few of my favorites; the pink ones are the ones I’m especially working on with our girls.

  • When you greet or say good-bye to your child, gather them into your arms and hold them. Kneel down for small children.
  • If your child is under stress or upset, gently stroke their head to relax them.
  • Hug and kiss your child every day.
  • Shortly after disciplining your child, take a moment to give them a hug.
  • Give your child a bright smile, thumbs up, or high five when you catch them doing something right.
  • Make it a habit to say “I love you” whenever you tuck your child into bed or leave one another.
  • When your child is feeling down, share five reasons why you are proud of them.
  • Leave a note on a cereal box, bathroom mirror, or other place to know your child will look.
  • When a child makes a mistake doing something helpful, first use words to recognize that you knew of their good intentions.
  • Instead of spending time with your child after your errands, include your child in your daily activities, such as laundry, grocery shopping, or washing dishes.
  • Stop what you’re doing and make eye contact with your child as they tell you something important.
  • Cook something together for a snack and eat it with your child.
  • Make dinnertime a special occasion with lots of talk about the day.
  • Spend a few extra minutes putting your child to bed at night.
  • Make after school snacks memorable by serving them on a special plate.
  • Keep a chart and some fun stickers to keep a record of accomplishments. Reward your child with a small gift after a set of number of stickers earned.
  • Instead of just telling your child to go to bed, pick them up gently and carry them.
  • Occassionally wake up an half hour early to make your child a special breakfast.
  • When running late for an appointment or meeting, help your child quickly finish what they are doing so you can both be ready faster instead of just telling them to hurry.
  • Start a “birthday dinner” tradition where you make your child any meal they want on their birthday.

I shared this list with the moms at our child training class one week. Some of the ideas may seem like things parents would, or should, do naturally, but sometimes we can get so busy taking care of our little ones that we forget to “connect” with them on their level. While it’s important to keep their clothes clean and put meals on the table, little ones don’t view those things as “love”.

What are some ways you cultivate relationships with the little people in your life? How do you stay focused in all the hustle of daily living?

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