Love is a behavior: Building loving habits in your family

Love is not just a feeling or a warm fuzzy sensation inside your heart. Love is a behavior, an action, an experience. It is how you demonstrate that warm fuzzy sensation as an interaction between you and another.

Parents will say, “Of course I love my kids.” You know it is the right answer, and it’s true most of the time.

But rather than asking if you love your kids, my question is how do you love your kids? What actions do you take? If love is, as I say, an experience, how do you experience love with your children?

If this question has you stumped, then perhaps my top three ways to love your children will help:

1. Keep your temper in check!

Your words have a big impact. The day-to-day demands of parenting, with your small one always pushing your buttons, can be frustrating. And I know it is hard to always keep your cool, but your children are listening. The words you use when you are upset cannot be unsaid.

So, even when upset, don’t berate, belittle, or insult your kids. Find ways to correct and direct them, or simply wait to speak until you have relaxed. You may not be able to use loving words in the moment, but you can avoid using hurtful words. This is an act of love!

2. Set up date night

Date night is not just for your partner. No matter how much time you spend with your children, set up a specific date night with them — ideally, individually and weekly. Knowing that they get to have dinner with you every Tuesday or brunch each Sunday is special for them, and you’ll both look forward to it. This special time will be something you both cherish as they grow up.

3. Small steps have the most impact

The big moments are easier to remember. Birthdays, holidays, and graduations all have love built-in. It is the small moments that can have a huge impact. Start your days off with a snuggle. Put a note in your little one’s lunch box. Leave a paper heart on her pillow. Draw a card for him that says “I love you.” Hang up a picture she drew. It does not need to cost a thing to show your small ones love. Day-to-day moments can be packed with love.

Building more love in your family will increase amazing behavior. Start building loving habits in your family, one day at a time!

Dr. Marcie Beigel is a behavior specialist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands of families for more than 20 years. Her book “Love Your Classroom Again” is a bestseller, and her new book, “Love Your Family Again,” is available on Amazon. Find out more at DrMarcie.com.