Kids need to hear affectionate words from their parents, and they need to hear them often. They need to hear you say "I love you" with sincere devotion. Obviously, if you rattle off these three words like a commercial one hundred times a day, they will lose their impact. Affectionate words must come from the heart.
Be creative and look for ways to express affection beyond just saying "I love you." One variation is to catch your child's eye, wink at him or her, and mouth the words silently, "Hey, I love you." Use other affectionate expressions like: "You're really special"; "You're the best"; "You add so much joy to my life." And do not just speak your words of love. Use every means at your disposal: greeting cards, notes taped on a bedroom door, e-mail, voice-mail messages, a handwritten letter--even a small ad in the local newspaper. Be creative, but be sincere.
Some parents choose affectionate nicknames for their kids to affirm one of their unique qualities. Using an endearing nickname at various times can serve to reinforce a kid's sense of lovability.
There is awesome power in simple but heartfelt expressions of verbal affection. It is the power to strengthen the intimate relational connection between you and your young person as so many other forces in our culture try to tear you apart.
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