Apart from the obvious ways to love your daughter, I hope my list below provides you with or else reminds you of additional ways to help your daughter feel loved, important, and one of a kind.
Afterall, confident, girl warriors are made from LOVE <3.
1). FIND HER LOVE LANGUAGES AND USE THEM
When I first read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, it didn’t occur to me that love languages can apply to children as well. Then I came across another book of Gary Chapman’s called The Five Love Languages of Children. If you haven’t read about love languages or need a refresher, the five love languages include physical touch, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and words of affirmation.
My daughter Sadie is a cuddle bug and purrs like a cat when you show her physical affection. I know I can instantly turn her mood around from night to day with a hug. She is also affectionate with her friends in this way too. She sits close to them and leans her head into them when they talk as if she’s smelling a flower. Recently, at swim lessons, she got chilly sitting on the edge of the pool. So, she embraced one of her best friends with a full bear hug to stay warm until they could jump back into the water. No, ‘physical touch’ is not her only love language. But I know it’s a dominant one for her and always has been. This may change, but for now, I’ll keep hugging her as much as she can stand it.
My son Hudson is a project guy. He loves diving into projects and working with his hands. Even just ten minutes of my time to help him construct a new lego airplane or speedboat makes him radiate with delight. I make a point to implement other ‘acts of service’ and ‘quality time’ into his life. When he is so excited the veins in his neck literally bulge out while he’s telling me what we can build next, I know that’s his jam. I know doing it with him is one of the greatest ways I can love him.
Of course, as Gary Chapman explains, not everyone matches up perfectly with one or two love languages. And the love languages that work best for your child may not be staring you in the face, especially while they are little. So, using ALL of the love languages is something we as parents should also strive to do, in addition to learning which love languages are more dominant for each child.
2.) LET HER DO SOMETHING YOU WOULD OTHERWISE TAKE CARE OF
You know all those mundane mommy tasks that you do every day so efficiently on your own? Like preparing the kid’s breakfast, choosing their outfits, finding matching socks…ask your daughter if she would like to take over. I know this might slow you down a bit. And it’s totally easier to rush through these kinds of things on autopilot. But delegating these tasks that you normally do yourself to your daughter will make her feel special, trusted and empowered. I can’t tell you how excited my daughter gets when I ask her to help me cook dinner or even clean the dishes. Yes, I might be slipping around on a soap-sud covered floor, or have potato peels in every crack and crevice of the kitchen, but those few minutes are precious to her.
3). DO SOMETHING WITH HER THAT SHE LOVES TO DO
When Behavior specialists make preliminary contact with a new client at the beginning of an intervention, the first thing they do is find out what the client’s interests. They then join them in doing something they enjoy the most. This establishes trust and a bond. Think about your daughter’s favorite activities, even if they aren’t yours. Does your daughter love to draw, color, make crafts or jewelry? Do her eyes beam with joy when she has access to jars of glitter like my daughter’s do? Does she love giving her doll a bath? Playing with dirt outside? Dressing up? Dancing? Singing in a karaoke microphone? Maybe her interests aren’t clear-cut quite yet. But most girls have things they love to do at any time of the day. Don’t just watch her do them, do them WITH her, even for just ten minutes. Think about the last time someone joined you in doing something YOU love to do, and how you felt loved and bonded at that moment. This is what you are giving your daughter.
4.) LOOK AT OLD PICTURES AND BABY BOOKS WITH HER
It only took me SIX years to get Sadie’s 1st-year baby book complete (ha!). I had to separate it into two Shutterfly hardcover books, 0-6 months and 6 months-1-year-old, because I had too many pictures to choose from. But hey, at least I got it done. We can now pull it out anytime we want and look over her goofy, and oh so lovable baby-hood pictures, reminiscing about those special moments that are so unique to only her. She LIGHTS up looking at old pictures of herself and past experiences. She loves knowing who was there loving her. As we first flipped through pages, I told her stories and the behind the scenes details (compensating for the captions that didn’t make it to the final product because mommy forgot to save them correctly). SHE now tells us the stories. Yes, we live in a time of too many pictures! But don’t stop taking pictures moms/dads! Keep snapping for your family, daughters, or sons. If used correctly pictures are love, they are part of our identity.