15 Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them That Won’t Cost You a Penny

15 free ways to show your kids you love them

I’ve been thinking back on my childhood a lot this year. I recall being really happy as a child. My parents did not have a lot of disposable income. But despite being short on money, they shared a surplus of love. I always knew I was loved. Thinking back, I realize the things my parents did for me as a child to show their love cost them little to nothing.

I want my 3 kids to remember the things I DID for them. But sometimes budget restrictions prevent us from doing all the things we want to do with, or for, our kids. So, I decided to create a list of actions I can do consistently, that won’t cost a penny, to show my kids I love them. You’ll want to pin this list to keep this reminder close at hand.

We say the words “I Love You” a lot in our house. In all candidness, sometimes we may throw those words around too casually or in an obligatory response. We believe our kids can never hear the words “I Love You” enough from us, but do the words become diluted when said too often? Or do the words mean less if we are not following up those words with actions to show our kids just how much we love them?

Yes, these types of thoughts run through my restless mind. And these thoughts prompted me to get a little more proactive in my actions to show my love to my 3 kids. I started the list by thinking back on my childhood and the things I remember my parents doing for me that didn’t cost them anything, but really made a long term impact because I still remember them.

  1. BE EXCITED TO SEE THEM. We live in a rushed pace in today’s world and it can be so easy to throw a quick, trite greeting at our kids when we pick them up in carline or from practice and then move on to asking how much homework they have or what chores do they have left. My mom was ALWAYS so happy to see me. How do I know? Because her excitement showed through her smile, her hugs and her cheerful demeanor EVERYTIME. Admittedly, I really need to work on this one myself. I have a tendency to be thinking of what needs to get done next rather than live in the moment. I need to remind myself to slow down and get excited when I see my kids.
  2. COMPLIMENT THEM, OFTEN. Who doesn’t love receiving a compliment? Adults and kids alike. We are often quick to criticize or correct our kids, but may get stingy with the compliments. Compliment your kids on their attitude, their effort, their simple acts of kindness and all the good things you notice them doing. Not only will this reinforce the good things, complimenting them out loud about it is a simple action to show your love.
  3. SET ASIDE 10-15 MINUTES EACH DAY, FOR EACH KID. I have 3 kids and while this may not sound difficult, I can tell you from trying that you must be intentional about setting this time aside, or it will not happen. When they are young, you can read to them during that time. As preteens and teens, it may be listening to their favorite music, playing a board game or card game, or watching part of their favorite show with them. The key is to try to spend the time individually with each kid and make sure it is undivided attention.
  4. LEAVE A PERSONAL NOTE IN THEIR LUNCH OR GYM BAG. Again, so simple, yet memorable. It doesn’t have to be everyday and in fact, probably is more effective when done sporadically. Leave a note on the day of a big test, or big game and then sometimes choose just an ordinary day to write a note reminding them you are proud of them and that you love them. I often use the lunch note to remind them to be kind to someone that day or make someone laugh. I have no clue if they actually act on my prompts, but hopefully the idea will sink in at some point.
  5. WARM UP THEIR TOWEL OR CLOTHES. This one may sound strange at first glance. But this is something I vividly remember my mom doing for me. On particularly cold mornings, she would throw my jeans in the dryer and they would magically appear on my bed just in time for me to get dressed and feel the warmth. Or on cold nights, as I showered she would throw my towel in the dryer and time it perfectly so that my towel blanketed me in warmth before my feet hit the cold tile. Such a thoughtful gesture that has stuck with me through the years. If I polled my kids, I think my third kid would say this is his favorite expression of love I do for him.
  6. GIVE HUGS FREELY, AND OFTEN. Like compliments, one can never receive too many hugs. Life is busy, no doubt. But taking time to pause for a quick hug multiple times throughout the day, acts as a tangible reminder of your love.
  7. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE. This is another hard one for me. I work on my phone, on social media, and almost entirely online. I enjoy my work, so I work a lot. That means I’m on my phone a lot. Let me tell you, today’s kids notice when you are on your phone. In a conversation, put down your phone. At dinner, put down your phone. At the red light with your kids in the car, put down your phone. During your undivided individual time with each kid, put down your phone. It will not go unnoticed.
  8. ASK FOR THEIR HELP. We can learn a lot from our kids. And there’s no shame in admitting to your kids that you need help with something. Need help with technology, ask your kid. Need help cooking dinner, ask your kid. Need help figuring out something, ask your kid. Simply involving them in the process and asking for their help or input, shows you value them and love them.
  9. SAY YES WHEN THEY EXPECT A NO. At least on some occasions, say yes to something you would ordinarily say no to. Your child wants dessert before dinner? Ok, why not? They will be so surprised and happy with your answer. Here’s something I do to make it more fun and memorable: So, a kid asks, “Can I have ice cream?” when it’s 30 minutes before dinner. I respond, “I don’t know, can I have a big hug?” And then, mid-hug I tell them I love them and this one time they can have ice cream before dinner.
  10. PLAY WITH THEM. Sometimes our kids just need us to play with them. Play tag, play ball, play video games, even. Just play WITH them.
  11. SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOUR CHILD IN FRONT OF THEM AND OTHER PEOPLE. Everyone loves compliments and compliments gain even more weight when given in front of other people. My mom used to talk about me to others right in front of me like I wasn’t in the room. At the time, I would get annoyed or embarrassed. But now, as an adult, more importantly, as a parent, I remember how proud and happy I felt when I heard my mom talk positively about me or compliment me to other people.
  12. START A JOURNAL. Start a journal between you and your child. One that is specific to the two of you. Use it to share memories, ask questions, pour out compliments and just engage in written conversation. For some kids, this written communication may be more impactful than the verbal communication.
  13. SHARE OLD PHOTOS AND STORIES. Take time to go through old family photos, digital or print, and share stories about the who, when and where those photos were taken.
  14. SURPRISE THEM BY DOING A CHORE FOR THEM. What? More chores for you? Yes, but this act of service will go a long way with your child. Clean their room when they least expect it. Organize their closet or desk. For an added touch, leave a personal note from you letting them know you completed their chore for them out of love.
  15. VOLUNTEER TOGETHER. What better way to experience love than by serving others together. Sharing a servant heart and experiencing service with your child is one of the greatest acts of love.

There’s my list of 15 ways you can show your child your love without costing a penny. In what other ways do you show your child you love them? Please share with us in the comments.

xo, Christy

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