Its not enough to tell you children that you love them. They need to FEEL loved. They need to experience being loved. They need to know deep down, inherently, that they are worth something. They need to know that they are wanted.
How Do You Do That?
Steve Donaldson, a counselor here in Portland puts it this way:
“The love, acceptance, and approval a child needs, is rarely communicated verbally. The child develops a sense of himself by how he is treated by his parents.
The language of children is a language of facial expression, eye contact, focused attention, voice tone, and touch to name a few.
The child’s sense of self (who he is) is formed by the reflection he sees in his parent’s eyes.
Do the parent’s eyes tell the child that he is good and desirable or do they communicate to him that he is a burden or only acceptable if he performs in a certain way?
Do the facial expression and vice tone communicate that his is loved because he exists as a special and separate being, or do they communicate that his opinion, and preferences are only valued to the extent that they conform with and affirm the parent or the family system?”
When talking with your child, get down on his or her level. Get eye to eye. Don’t be distracted by all the other daily things. Take 20 seconds, actually listen to your kid, let your face show that you are listening, and see what happens.