family building motherhood

42 Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Absolutely Loved

From down the hallway, I could only see his feet. I could tell that my husband was kneeling down, and I heard his voice as I dabbed on some concealer.

“Do you guys know how much we love you?” he said to our kids. “We love you more than anything. We love you no matter what. If someone isn’t nice to you at school, or if you make a poor choice, we will always love you.”

I imagine he gave them each a quick hug, and then he was off to work, closing the front door quietly behind him.

When the kids make up a game at recess and won’t tell our son the rules, we want him to know that we’ll always tell him how to play.

When our daughter doesn’t get asked to a dance, we want her to know that she can always dance with us in the kitchen.

We’ll make up dorky handshakes and wear retro family t-shirts and show our children that we will hold their place at the family dinner table—forever.

We’ll do everything we can to make sure our family identity seeps into every corner of their souls, so that they know without a doubt that they always have a place where they belong.

42 Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Absolutely Loved

1. Dance.

2. Tell stories from your life. Childhood adventures and youth run-ins with the cops. 🙂 What you thought the first time you saw your spouse. What you felt on your wedding day and the day your child learned to ride a bike.

3. Kiss them goodnight.

4. Let them climb into bed with you. (Sometimes.)

5. Print pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents and tell stories from their lives, to help build your child’s sense of family identity. Every year when I pull out our Christmas decorations, I also bring out a stack of beautiful black & white family photos I had printed as polaroids. I tuck them around the house and try to share stories about those faces all season long.

6. Pick them up from school or childcare. (It’s the little things.)

7. Teach them to do something. Read, tie their shoes, shoot a bow and arrow. (My husband has never looked more attractive than when he taught our boys to rainbow loom. 🙂

8. Refer to your family as a team. (Team Braverman, anyone?)

9. Create a family password or handshake. When I was growing up, our family password was our last name spelled backwards. We thought it was the coolest thing ever.

10. Use the words “no matter what.” I love you no matter what. 

11. Give them bubble baths.

12. Watch photo slideshows and family videos clips. {Related: 32 Ways to Savor Your Children While You have Them}

13. Tell them you love them. A lot.

14. Have them lie flat on their bellies and give them back rubs.

15. Maximize time at the dinner table with great dinner conversations.

16. Slip notes into their lunch boxes. How cute are these tear-out lunchbox jokes?

17. Read to them, especially favorites from your childhood.

18. Let them get messy. And wear mismatched clothes. (So hard, right?!)

19. Create a family motto or a family purpose statement, to help you nurture a family culture that will nurture them.

20. Make a meal or a treat from your childhood and tell them all about it.

21. Spend time in nature together. Camping, hiking, biking, boating, bird watching…

22. Put down your phone.

23. Over the years, create traditions for each child’s birthdays. I know a family who floats a cake on a kickboard in their pool for their daughter’s birthday. We take our oldest to Panera because that’s where we went the night we learned we were expecting him.

24. Create with them. Bake, craft, construct, experiment.

25. Eat something you grew from the ground.

26. Teach them how amazing their bodies are.

27. Have stay-up-late nights, where one kid gets to stay up an extra 15 minutes (or more, depending on their age) and do a one-on-one activity of their choosing with Mom and Dad. I suggest doing it on your child’s birthdate every month. That way you—and your child—are less likely to forget and more likely to look forward to it.

28. Work together to create a family cheer. OR borrow this one, like we are. It’s perfect for families with young kids.

29. Set goals together.

30. Have a weekly family night. We don’t manage it every week, but we when we do, we try to answer the three questions Bruce Feiler recommends in The Secrets of Happy Families: What did we do well last week? What didn’t go so well? What can we do better this week?

31. Let them lose track of time. (And learn from it, as you try to carve out more room for timelessness and play in your life.)

32. Explore the stars together.

33. Watch them when they’re sleeping and then tell them about it the next day.

34. Say you’re sorry.

35. Frame your favorite photos of them—and not just the professional, posed shots but the imperfect, candid images too. {4 Actionable Tips to Help You Finally Print Your Photos}

36. Get interested in their interests. (Even if that means learning the ins and outs of Minecraft.)

37. Do a fun run together.

38. Love your spouse.

39. Share your faith with them.

40. Listen with empathy when they’re hurting.

41. Watch out for their natural talents.

42. Say great things about them to your spouse when they don’t think you know they’re listening.

It came as no surprise that twice that day, long after his daddy had stood up and closed the front door, my oldest son brought up what he had heard.

“Mom? Do you remember what Dad said this morning? I do.”

I do too, hon. Never forget.

You guys ask me regularly about the easiest way to print out this list, so I got my act together made it into a printable. 🙂 Sneak peek…

Just enter your email below to have the free PDF emailed to you!


  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 1:40 am

    these are very lovely! i realised we do a lot of these without thinking but i especially like number 5! i will have to do this when our almost 3 year old is a bit older so she might appreciate it more lol

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Thank you so much! I wanted the list to be full of things we’re already doing. Moms have enough to-do’s as it is! 🙂 And it really is the little things that fill our kids up.

      I’m glad you liked #5! That’s one of my favorites as well.

  • Reply
    Tove Stakkestad
    September 9, 2014 at 6:00 am

    I am in tears reading this… your suggestions were all spot on and so sweet. (and I was relieved to see that we DO MOST of these… so I don’t feel like a failure! ha ha ha) – I will share this on my FB – cute cute cute

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Tove! I was so touched by your comment, as well as your words on facebook. Thank you so much for passing this along! And YES, I wanted moms to think, “I totally got this!” when they read the list. We’re all already doing so much to fill our little ones up with love and belonging. (And the last thing I want to do is lay on the guilt!)

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 7:35 am

    This is a truly great list! I have seen so many silly fluffy ones floating around, but these are all well thought out intentional actions that are so special.

  • Reply
    Rachel T.
    September 9, 2014 at 7:37 am

    That is the sweetest thing ever! I love that Ryan said that to them. And that they remembered it! What a great Dad. These are all great suggestions. I was just tickling Sierra’s back this morning and she has been laying down by me lately wanting me to tickle her…I love it! As a parent there is nothing better than making your child feel loved. It’s the little things!

  • Reply
    Linda Kardamis
    September 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Love this list! Definitely holding onto this for when my kiddos are older…

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    What an amazing resource! Thanks for including our lunchbox notes in with so many other great ideas. xo, MJ

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 10, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, MJ! Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Aw Erica this was sweet! What a wonderful experience for your husband and kids. I agree with so many of these, from the dinners around the table to explaining that we love them no matter what. I tell my son that all the time: I love you even when you tantrum. Even when you sleep, etc.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Absolutely LOVE these! You sound like an amazing momma that knows EXACTLY what her priorities are. You and your husband are purposeful about loving and appreciating your kiddos. Beautiful list 🙂

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Lisa, what a touching comment! Thank you so much! I do try to focus on what matters…I don’t always get the balance right, but I try! Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around!

  • Reply
    Sierra Burton
    September 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Oh Erica I love these. I’m not a mom yet, or even married but I get really scared sometimes that my kids won’t know how much I love them because I’ll get caught up in the big things and always be worrying about making sure my kids turn out right that I’ll forget to show them how much I love them. Thank you for sharing this, it is something I’ll definitely be referencing it many times in the future!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      The good news about parenthood is that it all comes one day at a time! You’re going to be a fantastic mom!

  • Reply
    Julia Nielsen
    September 10, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Great article great family. Love you.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I always worry if we do enough, and from your list we do just about everything, so it’s good reassurance!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks so much, Morgan! You DO do enough! My husband and I can’t hit all of these all the time, but over the course of our children’s childhood, I think we’ll get there. And hopefully it will pay off in raising kids who feel deeply rooted in our family unit! Best wishes!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I absolutely LOVE this. So wonderful! As a new mom, I really love reading things like this to better myself as a parent. 🙂

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks, Chelsea! I bet you’re already a fantastic parent. Thank goodness it all comes one day at a time!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Another great post!! Such a great list, I especially love the ‘love your spouse’ one 🙂 I think this is SO important!

  • Reply
    Hannah MumsDays
    September 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    This is just lovely Erica. We’re in the middle of a move so I’ve been thinking more about our family needing more of an identity. I have a step-daughter and so we are all together during the weekend and then it back to her mum’s during the week. I’ll be honest, I find this challenging the constant changing dynamics and as my step-daughter grows SHE is becoming more challenging too! But I never want her to know this or think she’s any different to me from my son. So having this list is such a brilliant idea because while a lot of it comes naturally with my son (he’s only little too), I have to be more conscious with Gabby. Sorry bit of an essay but I will certainly be coming back and writing a bit of a bucket list!

    Thank you for linking xxxx

  • Reply
    Mrs H
    September 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    What a lovely post. It actually brought a tea to my eye. There are some great ideas for loving your kids. One of my greatest hopes is that Little Miss H knows how much her daddy and I love her. When she was born I promised her that I would show my love for her in every word I speak and every action I take. I hope I live up to that promise. Hugs Mrs H xxxx #thelist

  • Reply
    You Baby Me Mummy
    September 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    This is such a great post! I love these ideas ad will be referring back to it. Thanks so much for linking it up to #TheList x

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      I am late saying so, but thanks so much, Aby! It was a pleasure to link up! Looking forward to continuing.

  • Reply
    Sonia Gallagher
    September 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Absolutely beautiful list! I got really good ideas from it. I also show my Gianna how much I love her by being “Elsa” while she is “Anna.” She has an incredible imagination and changes characters about 20+ times a day so this game lasts days on end! 🙂

  • Reply
    Richella Parham
    September 18, 2014 at 5:22 am

    Such a good post, Erica. I truly believe the best thing a parent can do for a child is to let the child know s/he is LOVED. Thank you for joining Grace at Home–I’m featuring you this week!

  • Reply
    The List Week 3 Mums' Days
    September 19, 2014 at 12:18 am

    […] Why Lead’s 42 Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Absolutely Loved (brilliant list, which made me get a little something in my eye! I think it’s extra important […]

  • Reply
    Katie / Pouting In Heels
    September 19, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Feeling that you are well and truly loved is so important, especially for children. These are some great ideas which will help us all to do that, even more brilliantly.


  • Reply
    Callum Anderson
    September 21, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Hi Erica,

    This is such a great post. I am currently only 25 so i’ve got a fair while to go before I have kids of my own but your ideas are so well thought out, and what I also love is that they work for both mums and dads. Some of these ideas I would never have thought of but if I have kids of my own you can definitely be sure I’ll give these a go. Thanks for the tips for the future. 🙂

  • Reply
    LuAnn with Lovely Livings
    September 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Hi Erica! What a wonderful post! I have five children that we did all the things on your list with. Children need to know that you care enough for them to stop your busy lives and be with them for awhile. We have four (boys) still home. Four of our five are in their twenties and one only twelve. The boys still have dinner with us every night. They even play games, watch movies, and TV with us. When we go to a family or friend’s event my boys and my daughter usually go too. They show up for my 12 year old’s baseball games, chorus concerts and plays he does at school.We are very close. Showing children that they are loved from the start does stay with them and helps them to grow into caring and loving adults. It does work! They might stay with you longer than you want, but that’s ok because you know you did good! Thanks for sharing your lovely post!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      September 26, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Thanks so much, LuAnn! It’s fantastic to hear from a mama who is further down the parenting path than I am and can assure us that these little things are worth the effort. Best wishes!

  • Reply
    23 ways to connect with your step daughter Mums' Days
    October 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    […] lovely Erica, Let why Lead, and her 42 ways to make your kids feel absolutely loved really got me thinking about Gabriella and my relationship. I love her but there’s no […]

  • Reply
    Betsy (Eco-novice)
    October 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Love the Parenthood reference. This is an incredible list, Erica.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Beautiful, simple moments, and the list is on point!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      November 10, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks so much! Your blog is beautiful, lady! I’m looking forward to poking around more!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine
    but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, very
    good blog!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      November 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll look into it!

  • Reply
    Weekend Inspiration For The Deliberate Mother
    January 16, 2015 at 8:45 am

    […] 42 Ways To Make Your Kids Feel Absolutely Loved – “‘Do you guys know how much we love you?” he said to our kids.’ We love you more than anything. We love you no matter what. If someone isn’t nice to you at school, or if you make a poor choice, we will always love you.” […]

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  • Reply
    May 14, 2015 at 6:12 am

    What a beautiful post with fresh ideas! I love your site as well. Who designed it? Looking to update our corner of the Internet. Thanks for your thoughtful work! So sweet and encouraging! Xoxo

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      May 14, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Hi Kitty! Thanks so much for your sweet words! I did the design myself, so I’m not much help, but yours looks beautiful as well! Good luck in Rome, btw! That is amazing!

  • Reply
    corissa Engel
    May 21, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Such great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t wait to use them. Thank you for encouraging me!

  • Reply
    September 17, 2015 at 6:29 am

    As a child from divorced parents, a very protective mom and a very absent and loving-in-his-own-way father, I made it my Mission to always make everyone I care about feel appreciated. Family, friends, and (x)boyfriends. Now with my children there’s nothing I want more than them feeling loved. At the end of the day it is the only thing I can truly influence. But I also have a bit of a temper :/ so I do the best i can. Most of this is am so happy to read, i already do! Something i am going to implement right away is no 42. Thank you so much for making me feel more confident (parenting is so easy and hard at the same time), and no 42 😉 !!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Will shre it with other moms!

  • Reply
    March 2016 Color Energy Forecast – THECOLORMAGE
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  • Reply
    April 25, 2017 at 9:33 am

    No matter what the age of our kids…this is good parenting!-Laurel Bledsoe

  • Reply
    Amy Webb
    April 25, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Such a great post! I love Brene Brown too. Thanks for this. I’m sharing it widely.

  • Reply
    Lovely Links - Heather's Dish
    November 17, 2017 at 3:02 am

    […] 42 ways to make your kids feel absolutely loved. Going to be referencing this one again and again. […]

  • Reply
    November 17, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Hello! I loved this list. ❤️ The link on #12 seems broken though, it goes to a Facebook post. I really wanted to see it!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      November 18, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      Thank you so much for telling me, Celena! Just fixed it. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 25, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    What happens in the case of separated parents?

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      November 26, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I don’t feel like I can speak to this well because I haven’t experienced it, but (a) my heart goes out to you, and (b) my hope would be that you can still provide so much of these loving touches for your children, regardless of the place your relationship is. Best wishes, Andrea!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Thanks Erica

  • Reply
    Mary-Ellen Powell
    August 7, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Fantastic list! #1 reminds me a lot about my grandma who well into her 80s asked “when did you last dance?”!
    I’m a single mother but think the list can be modified for seperate parents. When it comes down to it, as much as his father has acted like a douche in the past, he is still part of my son & owe it to my son to support their relationship. As such, I don’t love him, but never speak negatively about his father around him, talk about his fathers positives, support his time with him (which sometimes means picking up the pieces afterwards!)
    And I do talk up my son to others within his unsuspecting earshot.
    One thing I’d add to list is to remain engaged in your passions and model this enthusiasm for life to children. Last week my 4yo noticed this and said “I love that you love yoga Mummy. You smile bigger with yoga.”

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      August 7, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      You sound like a wise woman, Mary-Ellen. (And I’m sure that wisdom has been hard-earned!) I especially love what you added—Our own passions are essential, both for us AND our kids. Thank you!

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