Let’s face it; tweens and teens struggle with receiving affection. They embarrass easily and would rather die than be seen kissing their mothers in public.
However, children that age need the reassurance a parent’s love gives. At a time when their bodies are changing, they lack self- confidence in most situations, and friends ridicule them for the slightest thing, a child needs the affirmation that acts of love bring.
So let’s start this New Year off showing our teens that they are special; they are loved; they are important people in our lives. Here is a list of 21 ways to show your tween or teen that you love him or her.
1. Take a walk together. Ask about her day. Do not bring up grades. Do not bring up undone homework or chores. Do not bring up any negative topic. Just listen.
2. Invite your daughter to join you in a re-decorating project. You could re-do her room, the bathroom, or some other space that is special to her. Browse Pinterest together for ideas. Go shopping for supplies and commit a weekend to work together.
3. Establish a monthly date night with your child. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Take a drive, walk the mall, or go out for an ice cream. Just hang out together.
4. Send him loving text messages throughout the day. Something to encourage him, a quote, or just an “I Love You” will make his day.
5. Don’t be the problem-solver. When she complains about her day, about how the girls talked behind her back or she flunked her math test, do not offer solutions; simply encourage her. Find something to say to build her up without trying to solve her problems.
6. If you are a person of faith, pray for him—daily—and tell him that you are. In fact, ask him what his prayer needs are so that you have something more than “God, please bless my son today.”
7. Bake cookies for after school. Mix up a big batch of dough, shape into rolls and freeze. Every day before your kids are expected to arrive from school, slice and bake a tray full. Nothing speaks love like cookies warm from the oven.
8. Send him a card. Go to the store and pick out an appropriate card to let him know you were thinking of him. Then mail it in the mailbox the old-fashioned way.
9. Don’t wait until your daughter is 30 years old to give her a piece of heirloom jewelry. Go ahead and give it to her now. Write a note that tells the history behind it.
10. Clean your kids’ bathroom. Throw in his wash. Iron her blouse. Perform random acts of kindness throughout the month.
11. Go to the game, the recital, the play. Show up for your child’s performances. If your work schedule interferes with his activities, take time off occasionally to let him know that what interests him, interests you.
12. Eat where they work. My son works at a local Dairy Queen. If out shopping, my husband and I often stop in and get an ice cream just so we can say hi.
13. Share embarrassing moments about your teen years with your own kids. Talking about your growing-up years shows them that you endured the same angst-giving trials.
14. If hugging and kissing embarrasses them, come up with some other form of physical contact they feel comfortable with. Then do that when you say good-bye in the morning; when you say hello in the evening; and when you say goodnight—every night.
15. Listen actively. Turn away from the computer, put down your phone, establish eye contact and listen. Let your teen know that you want to hear what she has to say.
16. Don’t say it. If what you were about to say is not something you would want someone to say to you, don’t say it to your kid. Not even in a teasing fashion.
17. Delegate an important job to your teen.Then walk away and trust he will do his best job. He just might surprise you.
18. Talk to her friends. Ask them questions. Show interest. Loving your daughter means loving her friends. If she sees that you do, she’ll understand that you love her, too.
19. Drive the carpool. What better way to get to know your son’s friends than driving a van load of guys to a swim meet or band competition?
20. Answer their hard questions. If your child musters up the courage to ask you about sex, drugs, or health-related issues, the least you can do is muster up the courage to give him an honest and straight-forward answer. If he knows that you will discuss hard topics with him, he won’t be going to his peers for answers.
21. Protect his privacy. One sure-fire way to discourage your kids is to talk about them to your friends. While that might be okay when they are toddlers, older children value their privacy just as much as adults do.
Freelance writer and mother of six, Carol J. Alexander writes about parenting and homeschooling topics from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.