How To Love Your Children

Elle kissing baby.

Of course you love your children. Duh. Hugs, kisses, snuggles, I love you’s. Said and done. But ever get the feeling there might be something more you can do? There is. And it’s actually quite simple. All listed below.

Ever read or watched The Nanny Diaries? That was me a few years ago. I was a nanny in NYC. And my experiences were similar to those written about in the book. Never read or watched it? Let me tell you about it. Not the book. I’ll tell you about my personal experience being a nanny at age 18 and 19. Why would you want to know? Because in the end, you’ll know how to really love your children. The kind of love they want and need from their moms, well and dads too.

The summers after high school graduation and after my freshman year at college I was a small town girl in the big city, New York City to be exact. Both time I nannied the same family. A father who worked all day and night. A mother who stayed at home but still had a nanny and a maid. Two boys and a girl, aged 8, 7 and 1. They lived in a nice home, drove extravagant cars and had everything they ever wanted. Everything except love.

How could I tell there wasn’t enough love in that family? I could tell because the boys would be in tears when the dad left for work each day, and all they wanted was their dad to throw a ball with them. Although the mom was home with the children, she spent most of her time getting herself groomed, shopping or talking to her friends on the phone. The parents purchased anything the children wanted – bikes, roller blades, basketballs, baseballs – but didn’t teach them how to use it. It all sat in a pile of other never been used things their parents bought them. No sign of affection at all in that family.

Then the only time the wife and kids had with the father was when he scheduled once a week lunch or dinner with them. The whole family dined at a fancy restaurant, nanny in tow of course, and ate a meal in dead silence. The mom and dad sat away from each other and had nothing to say unless they were disagreeing. I eventually learned the father was having an affair and the mother knew about it.

Being the nanny, the kids were afraid to get close to me because they were afraid to love or accept anyone. They were rejected by their own parents for love and affection. However, once they warmed up to me, they were thirsty for attention. They were attached to me at all times because I gave them what all children long for – love.

I knew I would be different with my own children. And I am. But sometime, I need a good reminder of the basic needs of my kids. Love. And not in any form that can be bought.

1. Teach them something new.

They are fascinated by new things. Teach them a new skill and you will grow closer to them.

2. One-on-one time.

Even when they are teenagers. They may not act like they want to hang out with their parents, but they need that undivided attention from you every once in a while.

3. Listen intently.

Just listen to what they have to say without giving feedback or comments unless asked. As parents, we tend to jump in and try to fix things or correct them when they are wrong or give them our opinion on everything. Stop. And then listen.

4. Put the spotlight on them.

Not in a way that is embarrassing. Spotlight them with the things they are good at doing. It will make them feel special.

5. Goof off with them.

A great excuse for you to act like a child. Let loose. Get dirty. Act silly.

6. Encourage their talents.

Talents don’t have to be in the form of singing, dancing or art. I can come in forms of communication, listening, writing, math, curiosity and even generosity. Help them strengthen their talents.

7. Cut them some slack.

It is not easy being a kid or teen these days. Allow them do to some things their way, even if it is not your preferred way. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way.

8. Be interested in their interests.

They will go through phases of special interests. Learn it with them. Take part in their creativity and imagination.

9. Take them to a new place.

Go out. See new things. Learn something new. They will remember the experience when they are old. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy – a new park, an ice cream shop, a museum, a hike.

10. Build confidence.

Kids need to know who they are. They need to know they are loved. They need to believe in themselves. Help them succeed. Help them learn from their mistakes. Help them have faith in themselves. It will make a difference in the rest of their lives.

Tell me… How does your children like to be loved?

29 Responses to “How To Love Your Children”

  • Monika Wright

    Mommy…it’s the best job in the world. And, you eloquently summed up what kids are yearning for in their lives. I’m happy to say that I try to most of what you set out there for us to read. And, thankfully, we don’t have enough money for a nanny or a maid, because I would be jealous of the time the nanny spent with the kids. Thanks for pointing this out for me…shame on you for bringing tears to my eyes, though.

  • Heather Mills

    I cannot believe that family in NYC! How sad. I hope that my children always feel my love for them! Thank you for the great tips and reminders!

  • Sarah

    Man, reading this post brought back memories of picking you up for rides to activities and stuff back in our nanny days. I kind of remember you telling me a little bit about the family, but I had no idea it had been like that! No wonder it was so stressful! Thanks for this post. It’s always good to have a little reminder on how we can show our kids a little more love that doesn’t include material things.

  • Destri

    well said, fabulous list. And that picture of them playing kitchen together, so sweet. Whenever I catch my little ones doing something together I feel a little sense of accomplishment.

  • Andrea

    I’m so glad I had good parents who did all those things with me. I hope to be as good to my three; thanks for the reminder of how blessed I am/we all can be.

  • Sabrina

    You are so VERY right on all of these points. It’s the little things they will always remember. I remember my mom sitting us up on the kitchen table and making a little song out of what dinner items she was making for the night. We’d all dance around singing “POTATOES and PEAS, la la la, CHICKEN!” Such a little thing, but its something I’ll never forget. Thanks for the reminder to be a little more goofy with my own little ones.

  • amy jane

    what a great post…and so sad to hear about that family. Hopefully they’ll have plenty of money for therapy! sorry, thats not funny…

  • Ally

    Also I think it’s important for kids to see mommy and daddy loving each other and working as a team–setting a good example of what marriage should look like. Thanks for your list and the reminders of all the different ways to love on our kiddies πŸ™‚

  • bess

    thanks for this reminder – i’ve found myself caught up in the “getting-it-done” lately and i needed this – thank you!

  • Katherine

    This is a fabulous post! We all tend to forget the small things are what are some of the most important when it comes to our children. My kids thrive off of the constants in life, and little thing as you mentioned like listening, one on one time, teaching them new things, and encouraging them to help build confidence. Thanks for the reminder πŸ™‚

  • Jesslyn

    Such a great reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in projects and forget you haven’t had any real time doing the activities you mentioned with the kids. Thanks!

  • Sara

    You are so right about teenagers. My children are 14, 4 and 1 and although it seems like our oldest wold rather go to school naked than spend time with us we enforce a Mom, Dad and teen night once a month. It’s simple. We order pizza, play video games and just hang out. He always enjoys it and the night ends with lots of hugs and love.

  • Stephanie

    I use to nanny too. For several different families. I grew up with a stay-at-home-mom. I’ve experienced/witnessed 2 extremes. The conclusion I have from both extremes is the same. Children just want to know that they are loved and important. You can be a stay-at-home-mom and neglect the very reason(s) you are staying home in the first place simply by getting caught up in everything you think you have to do to take care of them and the household. Kids don’t see all that is ‘important’. They just know that they aren’t being paid attention too. I try and make sure that the time I do get with my kids is quality time because for me growing up (and even to this day) with my own parents, quality time is all that matters to me.

  • Vania

    I love this post…in a world with so much STUFF, LOVE is what we all need…I love that I can apply some of this stuff to ANYONE…not just kids. Seeing as I don’t have any…i would love to try to teach my husband something new…or have him take me to a new place…love it all. Thanks for sharing this list, I’ll definitely be keeping this one bookmarked!

  • Adriane

    Just the other day, I was having one of THOSE days, and the thought crossed my mind, “I need a nanny.” And then immediately I decided that I couldn’t handle that–what if the kids loved her more than me? And how tempted would I be to relax waaaay more often than would be good for all of us? So THEN I realized that what I REALLY needed was to be my own Nanny, and hire a Mom from somewhere. Thanks for the reminder and putting my perspective back where it should be!

  • Rebecca

    Thank you so much for this post. Being a single mom I sometimes forget the little things that are important in the eyes of kids. I printed this just as a reminder for me to read again and again.


  • jenn

    I heard some great advice when I was pregnant…. “always greet your child with a smile”… I hope I never forget it.

  • Erika

    I know I am late to this one, but I still wanted to leave a comment. It seems like every time I stop by your site I find something else inspiring. All of these points are so true and right now we are going through a little job hiccup that may put me back out in the work world instead of at home with my Little Guy. I am pretty devastated, but trying to remind myself that we will cherish our time spent together and as one other commentor wrote, I will need to remember to be a nanny when I am with him rather than a mom (or maid, cook, personal shopper, etc). It’s definitely the little things that I remember and I try to give him those “little things” every day.


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