Most of us praise our kids when they’ve done something great and we punish them when they’ve done something wrong. But what about those neutral moments when nothing good or bad is happening? Do we show sufficient love to our children in those times or do they go unnoticed?
I read a book last year that basically said the most important time to show love to our children is in those ‘neutral’ moments because this relays the message of unconditional love. And attaching a love ritual to a common, repeated neutral moment helps make the most of the moment.
Since kids go to school everyday, it is a great time to establish a love ritual.
For example, before Crew left for preschool each day I said, “I love you” (kiss on cheek). “I’ll miss you” (kiss on other cheek). “Come back to me” (kiss on forehead.) Those words just came out of my mouth that first day and then I repeated them every day that year. (It was his first year gone and I needed to see those lips and eyes again.)
Elle’s 3rd grade off to school love ritual originated from The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. We read that book before school started and she latched on to it. So I kissed her palm before she left for school each day and she kissed mine. Rarely a morning passed where she didn’t run to me to kiss her palm before she hurried out the door. This book is a great place to start if you need some help starting a ritual. (And for a cute Back to School Family Night using The Kissing Hand click here.)
Another neutral opportunity for love rituals is bedtime. I keep it simple and sincere. I just say to Croft, “You’re my girl” and with Locke, I swing him into his crib 3 times and then lay him down and say, “You’re my boy.” There are volumes of pathos in those 3 words.
I remember Dr. Phil said, “I’m lucky to be your dad” to his boys before they went to sleep. There are so many things you could do at bedtime to establish a love ritual.
For me, it is important that the rituals aren’t forced or contrived but originate naturally. They need to be authentic and sincere. I let my words just come out and then I turn them into love rituals by repeating them. The bond is formed in the repetition, but rituals can change and evolve as kids grow and mature. (There is no way Crew would let me kiss him 3 times this year. )
Since Croft is headed off for her first big year of preschool and Crew will be gone all day, we will be starting some new love rituals. I’m excited to see what we come up with this year.
What are your off to school love rituals?