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Have you ever had one of your kids ask you, “Who do you love the most?”
If so, you’ve probably said something like, “I love you all the same!”
And, of course, that’s true! You don’t have one kid that you love more than the other. Most days. 😉
Even though that answer feels natural (I’ve said it plenty of times myself), the “I love you all the same” answer isn’t really what kids need to hear.
Adele Farber, the co-author of amazing books like How to Talk So Kids Will Answer and Siblings Without Rivalry, says that kids ask “Who do you love the most?” for a particular reason: They want to feel special.
Even if you have multiple kids, each of your kids is one-of-a-kind to you. The problem is that they don’t always feel that way. Chances are, your children know that you love them but they might sometimes feel like they are 1 out of 3 or 1 out of 4. They want to feel like they are one of a kind!
So, that means kids ask “Who do you love the most?” because they want to feel valued. They don’t need to hear that they’re your favorite child, or that you don’t love their siblings as much as you love them.
What they need to hear is how much they mean to you.
That means that this question isn’t about the other kids in the house– it’s about the relationship between you and your child.
So, What Should You Say?
It can be hard to know what to say to our kids when they ask “Who do you love the most?” but if they’re looking for validation, we should try to offer it.
Try something along these lines:
“Honey, do you know how much I love YOU? You are the only [insert their name] I have! There’s no one else like you in the WHOLE WORLD! You’re so special because…” and then list characteristics that you love about them, especially fun and quirky ones!
The goal is for your child to leave the conversation feeling great about themselves. Their “love tanks” should be full and they should walk away knowing that they are irreplaceable.
Side note: If your kids ask this question in front of one of their siblings, I recommend separating them and answering it individually.
How to Make Your Children Feel Special Every Day
I have three girls and– as you can imagine– there is some sibling rivalry in my household. Some of it is inevitable. But some of it, I can affect.
One of the best ways I’ve found to limit sibling rivalry is to limit the amount of competition my girls feel among themselves.
To limit the competition, I try to make each of my girls feel special every day. If my kids feel special and valued every day, they don’t need to ask me who I love the most.
So, how do we make our kids feel special every day?
1. Recognize their individuality.
As much as we love our kids equally, we must accept that we can’t show that love in the same way. Each of our kids is unique. They have their own personalities and unique needs.
Try not to constantly group your kids together. It might be more efficient to try to show our kids love all at once (especially if you’re a mom of three or more), but our kids really need individual attention. They need us to show them love in the way that they can best receive it, which leads me to my next point…
2. Learn their love languages.
Have you heard of the love languages? They have become common knowledge to some people, yet I still talk to people all the time that have never heard of them.
The “love languages” were coined by Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages. The idea is that there are five languages in which we all express and receive love. The love languages are quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts.
One of the problems in many marriages is that we are expressing our love to our spouse in a different way than they receive it.
For example, if your spouse showers you with gifts to show his love, but your love language is quality time, you might actually resent those gifts. Meanwhile, your husband thinks he’s treating you well and expressing his love. He loves you and wants to show you that he does, but it’s getting lost in translation.
This is where learning love languages can be SO HELPFUL! And the best news is— they work with your kids too!
Love Languages of Children
Your kids have their own unique ways of accepting and showing love. One of your kids might love hearing words of affirmation while another child responds much better to quality time with you.
Maybe you have a child who seems especially grateful for gifts. That might be because they feel loved when they know that you spent time picking something out just for them. Meanwhile, other children appreciate hugs and kisses (physical touch) or acts of service.
If your child’s love language isn’t obvious to you, you may need to do some digging. Try asking them when they feel the most loved. For example, “What do you know that Mommy loves you? Is it because I tell you that I do? Or is it because I take care of you? Or is it because I give you lots of hugs and kisses?”
Once you know your child’s love language, do your best to express love to them in their own language every single day.
For more information on the love languages of children, check out The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
3. Spend some one-on-one time with each child every day.
As a working mom of three, I know it can be hard to spend one-on-one time with each child each day.
I love the idea of going on elaborate “dates” with each child, but sometimes all that you can do is spend 5 minutes together reading a story. Or building a puzzle. Or talking about how their day went.
As you can see, there’s no need to make one-one-one time complicated. Do what you can. But try to do it consistently, and especially when one of your children indicate that they are needing some extra love. (This comes in a variety of ways. My oldest daughter will usually ask “Mommy, will you play with me?” and I know she’s needing some extra mommy-love that day.)
Once you’re consistently spending time with each child and making sure that they know how special they are to you, you’ll find that your kids don’t need to ask questions like “Who do you love the most?” as often. But if they do, you’ll know how to answer. ♥
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