Why Is It So Important to Say “I Love You” Out Loud To Your Kids?


When I was growing up I had a friend whose mother told her she loved her every time they got off the phone with one another, every time she kissed her goodbye at school and every time they parted ways or saw one another after a separation – no matter how brief. This went on as long as I knew her, even into high school, college and beyond. She never once made any issue of it. She never denied her mother a hug or kiss, no matter how uncool the rest of us thought our parents might be. Her mother was one of her best friends. There was a part of my teenage self that thought maybe this was weird. After all, I really did not like my mom most days. Another part of me, however, was green with envy; how come my parents didn’t love me like that?

I asked her once why she and her parents said “I love you,” a thousand times a day and why she liked her mom so much and her answer was very simple. It was so simple, in fact, that even two decades later her answer still resonates with me and has a very profound impact on the way I raise my own kids.

“How could I not love someone who loves me so much?”

It was the simple and honest answer, and it meant something to me. Fast forward 20 years and I tell my kids every chance I get that I love them. I tell them when I see them in the morning, when I kiss them at night, when I leave the house, when I get home, when I talk to them on the phone if we are not together, when I drop them off at school; all the time. My brother tells me that I tell my kids too much that I love them and that it’s meaningless, and that I’m spoiling them. Perhaps I am spoiling them, but not with the number of, “I love yous” that I utter throughout the day.

According to Dr. Edward Hallowell, MD and child psychiatrist and author, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health shows that of 9000 kids studied, those shown unconditional love are often the happiest kids. Kids need to hear that they are loved; it makes a profound impact in their lives. There are scientific studies that back this up, and there are so many good reasons to tell your kids – out loud – that you love them on a regular basis that I haven’t enough time to write them all down. But I can share with you the best reasons, and maybe it will help convince you that you should say those three coveted words a bit more often.

Love makes Kids feel Valued

When you tell your kids that you love them, they feel valued. They feel important, and it makes them feel as if they can make mistakes and learn from them without fear of losing your love.

Love makes Kids feel Good

Think about it this way; when your husband tells you he loves you, how do you feel? You feel good. When your mom tells you she loves you, how do you feel? You feel good. When your kids tell you that they love you, how do you feel? Good. That’s how your kids feel when you tell them; they feel good – even if they pretend they do not enjoy it.

Love Reminds Kids they Always have a Teammate

When life happens, it sometimes hurts. Life sometimes brings people into and out of our lives. It’s not always roses and birthday cake and laughter and happiness. Sometimes people are mean. Friends betray you, love goes away. But a parent that loves their kids and reminds them regularly produces a child that knows under all circumstances that she is not alone. No matter what happens, there is always someone on her team, and that is a powerful feeling.

Love is Motivational

When kids are loved, they are motivated. Kids who are loved want to make their kids proud. When someone loves you and shows you that you are important to them, you want to work harder to make them happy and proud of you, and the same goes for kids who are loved.

Love is a Good Example

There is never a time that loving someone is a bad example to your kids, especially when it comes to them. Freely showing your love for your kids helps them to understand that showing emotion is a nice thing, and it’s a positive. When you love your kids, they’ll love you back and learn to show their emotions – all of which leads to a more well-rounded little person.

Love Shows Kids where they Stand – Always

Kids thrive on structure. According to Dr. Laura Markham, kids are better adjusted, calmer, less anxious and less stressed when they live a life of structure and routine. Knowing what is happening, where they stand and what to expect can help them develop self-discipline and teach them to handle the unexpected with ease. When kids know that they are loved, they know where they stand. It makes them less anxious, overwhelmed and stressed.

Love Encourages Bravery

We learn best from our mistakes. The most successful people in the world have learned more from their mistakes than their successes, and they’ve failed more times than most people have even tried. When your child knows she is loved, she is brave. She will never fear that your love is conditional, that you will stop loving her if she is not perfect. When your child is brave, she learns more and becomes wiser. Loving your child will show her a valuable lesson that will take her far in life.

Love Encourages Acceptance

When you tell your kids you love them every day, it teaches them that love is not conditional and that it is accepting. How so? Well, your kids are not perfect (and if you’re one of those parents who likes to tell other people that your kids are perfect, stop; we know you’re a big fat liar – or just plain crazy). No one is perfect, but your kids will learn to accept differences and imperfections when you tell them anyway that you love them. Your kids will be more likely to love others and show unconditional love throughout their lives if you tell them repeatedly, whether they’re being awesome or horrid, that you love them.

Love Promotes Trust

Trust is the most valuable thing a child has in life. Children have to learn to trust you and to understand that you will be there for them, and your love helps to teach them trust. Your constant love and reminders of that love helps them understand that you are there for them, and that they can trust you.

Love Feels Good

It’s simple, but it’s true. Being loved feels good, and it doesn’t matter how many times you hear that. I don’t care how often my husband tells me he loves me, it makes me feel good to hear it. He’s been telling me dozens of times a day he loves me for the past 14 years, and it never gets old. The same is true of my kids; no matter how often every day I hear, “I love you, mommy,” my heart melts and I feel good.

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for dcp


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