Ways to show your child you love them

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This is a nutrition blog so you may be wondering why this article is here. Well, it’s because so many of us show love with food and this can be problematic.

We need to feed our children. It would be neglect if we didn’t feed out children. A basic way of loving our children is to feed them but it’s the way we do that that can be an issue.

Young children may be too young to say which way they want to be loved (like in Dr Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages work) but they need love and we are to give it to them.

Grandparents coming round with sweets, giving your child the food they love a little too often and rewarding your child’s good work with food are all ways of showing love. BUT these tell your child that food is a comforter. So when things go wrong, they turn to food. These things tell your child that if they want to celebrate something, they should celebrate with food. They teach your child that food shows love so when they need to feel loved they reach for food.

I see these patterns time and time again in adult clients who are struggling with their relationship with food.

5 alternatives to food to show love – using Dr Chapman’s 5 love languages

  1. Quality time – a game of football in the park, some art and craft time, a walk together
  2. Physical touch – a cuddle, dancing holding hands, a massage
  3. Words of affirmation – telling them what they are good at, remarking on their kindness or helpfulness
  4. Acts of service – we might feel like we do this ALL the time. But think about something your child needs help with and do it. This might be less well received as they might not notice but you are loving them all the same.
  5. Gifts – a trip to the pound shop to buy a toy or the newsagent to buy a magazine. Something that they like.

So next time you are tempted to show love with food, could you try an alternative. You can still have nice food, just don’t link it to a situation.

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