How to Tell a Child, “I Love You”

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The month of chocolate and flowers is upon us, so at The Power of Moms we can’t help but turn our attention to “The Power of Love”. And while we will talk about how to keep the love alive when you and your spouse are surrounded by toddlers or teenagers (or both!), we’re also going to be sharing some ideas for how to show love to your children–both the young’uns as well as the teenagers. (Because we all know a teenager would be mortified if you blew a kiss when dropping them off at school!)

Like adults, children crave love and attention, and I dare say they especially want it from their mothers–their first “true love.” Creating “I Love You” rituals in the home is probably one of the simplest things you can do to yield big results in family connectedness. Unlike other efforts we make as parents that require work, sacrifice, and a certain degree of tolerance, sharing simple “I Love You” rituals is not only easy, but will bring instant joy to both you and your child.

Below is a sampling of some of the fantastic ideas that have been shared on our website for showing younger children just how you really feel. Please take a minute to share your own ideas in the comments section below.

-Create a secret handshake or other sign that means “I love you,” like squeezing each other’s hands three times or signing (not singing!) “I love you” across a room or ball field.
-Hugs. Lots and lots of hugs. “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” (Virginia Satir)
-Write love notes on decorative paper and hide them under your child’s pillow.
-Designate certain days of the week as each child’s own personal “compliment day.” Use dinner time or right before bed (if the family gathers at that time) to have everyone tell that child why they are special, appreciated and loved.
-Put love notes in a lunchbox–even a simple note on a napkin is wonderful!
-Blow a kiss when dropping off at school.
-Be ready with a snack and listening ear when your child comes home from school.
-Ever heard the phrase, “Children spell love, T-I-M-E”? It’s true! Find a way to take your child out on a special one-on-one date, letting them choose the place and activity. Taking them out of school for a special lunch with you is also fun. Birthdays are a great time for this.
-Look your child in the eye when they are telling you something important to them.
-Create loving bedtime rituals like snuggling up for books, giving a back rub while listening to calming music, or whispering a “secret” in their ear after tucking them in–something specific that you love about them!
-Make their favorite dinner or treat when they’ve had an especially tough day, or reached an important achievement.
-Just say it. Three simple words.

Now, before you get overwhelmed thinking every other family out there is having daily love fests, remember that these ideas were submitted one at a time by individual mothers. If you think this list is a little overwhelming, but you’d like to increase the warm fuzzies at your house, just pick one or two things to implement and let the magic begin!

QUESTION: What are your favorite “I Love You” rituals for younger children?

CHALLENGE: Incorporate one or two new rituals into your daily routine, or plan something extra sweet for a special occasion.


  1. mswheels says

    Love all the ideas! We snuggle before bed and tell each other Teeny and Moe stories (just a couple random characters we made up together).

  2. Desere Olson says

    `we just give our 2 boys hugs and kisses everyday and simply say “i love you”. we dont have any special rituals, ive tried but they dont want them. they are just happy with hugs and kisses and hearing how much we love them. to them thats all they need.

  3. Desere Olson says

    we have no special rituals at our house. ive tried but my 2 toddlers dont want nothing to do with them. they are happy with hugs and kisses and tickles and cuddles and simply hearing “i love you”.

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