Expressing Love with Non-verbal Cues

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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.

While interviewing 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."

Verbal communication is the language of information

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 and much of that 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?

Below are some non verbal ways to express your love and appreciation to and for your child. Note I did not say easy, because any positive change in behavior is hard, but the end result is well worth the effort.

Hugs, kisses, pats on the back, thumbs up, touch on the upper arm, holding hands, squeezing hands, smiles, wink, grin, nod your head, mouth WOW, mouth I Love You, squeeze shoulder, clap your hands, bow to them, have a secret signal that means I love you like Carol Burnett did when she pulled her ear, she was sending a signal to her grandmother. Ruffle their hair, touch their neck, tickle the inside of their hand, give butterfly kisses, give raspberries on the cheek, and wrestle around on the carpet, if they like it. Dance with them, play tag with them, have water fights with them, play with them, have tea parties, sit close to them when watching TV, Put your arm around their shoulder when you walk. Listen to them and look at them with eyes filled with love, especially when they first come home from school.

Children need affirmations of the love that you have for them. They want your presence not your presents. Open your heart and share your deep emotions with them in word and deed.

I believe in you. You do an important work in supporting young people as they grow into their full potential. Thank you.

Parenting: Expressing love with non-verbal clues

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including end of life. You are invited to visit our blog at www.AskAuntieArtichoke.com for answers and suggestions which will enhance your relationships. You will also find a full listing of free tele-classes and radio shows held each Thursday just for you at www.ArtichokePress.com.

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