Yes, actions show how you feel, but children need to hear it, as well.
I had a realization about 5 months ago. I could go entire days without saying more than 5-6 sentences to my son. Granted, he was an infant and I was showing him I cared by feeding him, changing his diaper and playing with him but despite my showing him how involved I was, he didn't hear the words as often as I thought them. Yes, that's right, I would think the words to myself as I was changing his diaper or feeding him, but for some reason didn't say them out loud. That stopped that day. I try every day to say, as well as, show how I feel about him. As I mom, I feel that it is important that my son recognize that actions and words need to match and I am that role model. As a teacher, my students will tell me that their parents must love them, like them, care for them as they drive them to school and enroll them in activities but that they wish, sometimes, that they would just express how they feel.
Therefore, I thought back on my 7 years of teaching and had a discussion with some of my teacher friends and came up with these three simple phrases that need to be said to each child as often as possible, hopefully every day, but I do realize that life does get in the way sometimes.
1. I Love You
Children crave recognition and acceptance, support and stability. Saying "I Love You" every day - whether it be a before bedtime ritual, a lunchtime text or note or something that said over a sleepy breakfast or a wake-up call. Saying the words, on top of the actions, will help develop a strong relationship and make you a rock in your child's life.
It was a rule in my house growing up, you always say "I Love You" before leaving or before going to bed, even if you were fighting or mad. As a youngster, I didn't understand the reason behind this but knew it was important to my parents so, I went along in all of my eye-rolling glory.
In my teen years, I had a realization. No matter what happened, my parents would love me. They had told me so by saying "I Love You" after every fight, every disrespectful word, every grounding and every moment of teenage angst. They loved me, for exactly who I was - me. I was able to come to them with problems that were more adult because I had this knowledge and now, I consider my parents some of my best friends. I realize it was more than just the "I Love You" ritual that really flourished out relationship, but it the constant verbal reminder of their love that helped keep it centered.
I tell my son, every night, as I kiss him to sleep "I love you to the moon and back". Its our thing. I will say this to him every night, no matter what. If he is mad at me, I will say it. If I am mad at him, I will say it. If I'm in a state of disappointment, I will say it. I will do this, as no matter what, no matter what he does, he is my son and I will love him.
Children need to hear that they are loved, no matter what, every day. That is why every parents should say "I love you" to their child(ren) daily - no matter what.
2. You Were Wanted
These three little words are more powerful that you can imagine. In these three words, you are able to show you are listening and that you are interested. It gives your child the ability to give more details, explain their problems or show their excitement. In this vein, parents may also ask "how did that make you feel?", if they are unsure of how an event or story is effecting their child emotionally. Now, an entire conversation cannot be held with just parroting "tell me more" over and over again, but it is a springboard into deeper conversation and giving your child the security of knowing that you are interested in their day and want to hear about it... so please "tell me more".
I feel that it is important that my son recognize that actions and words need to match and I am that role model