It is not enough for parents, step parents and extended family to feel a deep glow of love for the children in your circle of influence. You must convey that feeling into a message that is heard, felt and integrated by the child. Children need to be told both verbally and non-verbally how much they are valued for just being them.
As I interviewed children for my latest book Raise a Confident Child, I was struck by how many children thought their parent’s love was tied to their performance, character or behavior. As Jeremy told me “When ever I score at soccer, my dad really loves me, when I don’t win, I’m not really sure.”
As I teach in parenting classes across the country, many people ask me what they can do to have stronger families and more harmony at home. My answer is in the non-verbal clues we give our children.
Verbal Communication is the Language of Information
When we talk much of what is said is spent in lecturing, teaching and correcting our children. No wonder they tune most of it out. Studies have shown we remember only 10—20% of what we hear.
Non-verbal Communication is the Language of Relationships
The non verbal clues are remembered and believed 80-90% of the time. So even if you do tell your children you love them, do you show them how precious they are to you? Do your actions demonstrate that your love and acceptance is not conditional upon their school grades, soccer goals or manners at the table?
Give non verbal clues by hugs, pats on the back, winks, squeeze hand or shoulder, smiles, high fives and other signals that indicate approval and love.
Trust me on this. They will remember much more of what you do than what you say.
Oh yeah, and when you say "I love you" always smile. I love you for being who you are and a part of my community of like minded people building empowering and respectful relationships.
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PS: I am smiling, can you feel it?