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Ways to Show Love to Your Tween Without Using Those Three Little Words

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Lavishing love on snuggly babies and cuddly toddlers is easy—we hold them and squeeze them and kiss them and whisper words of affection with ease. But suddenly we find ourselves with tweens, that often awkward, sometimes moody, sometimes prickly stage where we aren’t quite sure how to communicate with them. Sometimes it would be nice to know what’s going on in their minds! So how do we show love to kids in this stage when we don’t know if they are hearing us? Here are some ways to show love to our tweens.

Write it down

Printables abound for elementary lunch boxes, everything from encouraging words to riddles to holiday-themed messages that your child can open midday and remember that she is loved. Once she hits middle school, though, many of those Pinterest-worthy notes would be just oh so embarrassing for the average tween. Still, a note from Mom (or Dad) can make a big impact, even if it’s not adorably decorated (maybe even especially if it’s not adorably decorated). Jot down a quick “I love you!” or “I’m praying for your test/game/project today!” and stick it in her lunch, gym bag, or even bedroom door to see after school. Something about seeing encouraging words in writing seems to really make them stick.

Give them a day off

At first glance, this might seem ridiculous. When I compare my to-do list to my child’s, it seemed laughable. But being on the lookout for anxiety in your child and responding with a day off can make a difference. Honestly, though, it’s a perfect way to show love to someone stuck between the endless play of childhood and the responsibilities of growing up. Giving your child a chore-free day lets him know that you see and appreciate the work he does; you see his desire to just be a kid sometimes, and you are willing to sacrifice some of your own freedom for him. (Yes, I know that we as moms sacrifice monumentally for our children, but this is a tangible way for them to see it.) And what better way to demonstrate grace than to say, “I know this is your responsibility, but I’d like to do it for you today.”

Show interest in their interests

Minecraft, Pokemon, emojis, Taylor Swift-none of these really captures our interest as moms. It is so easy when we are overloaded with laundry, dishes, meals, and the thousand other things on our plates to blow off the endless conversations on topics like these. But when I think about what draws me to relationships with others, one thing stands out: common interests. Showing genuine interest in the things that captivate them shows them that we see and understand (or at least want to understand) them. Ask questions about Minecraft, crank up TSwift and sing along, or shoot hoops in the driveway, not because you like those things, but because you love the person who does.

Give them your full attention

How often do we tell our kids to look us in the eye when we are talking to them? And yet, how often do we listen to them distractedly while unloading the dishwasher or trying to find our keys? Stopping and looking them in the eye while they talk is a simple but profound way to say, “I love you. You are important to me.”

Give them your time

Just because she doesn’t want to have a tea party doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to spend time with you! Grab Starbucks (they have hot chocolate), let her stay up after the other kids go to bed for some special time, or check out one of these great ideas for bonding. The key isn’t what you do, but that you tell her she is worth taking time for.

Just keep showing up

The tween years are full of changes—everything from shoe size to hormone levels will shift rapidly, and possibly repeatedly, over the course of a few years. Tweens will test their boundaries as they try to figure out if they are children or adults; they will question themselves as their interests and friendships change; they will search for people who love them while they wonder if they are even lovable. We as parents can do everything on this list only to get an eye roll in return. So then what do we do? We just keep showing up. Our persistence in being there for our children will communicate love better than a thousand words ever could. {Tweet This} So whether it is another conversation about the latest YouTuber or one more friendship drama that just had to interrupt dinner prep (or worse-bedtime), just keep showing up for them. It will communicate love more than three little words ever could.

What are your favorite ways to tell your child that you love them?


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