Letting your children know you love them is the fun part of parenting. Loving is easy. Figuring out how to do it, however, may take a little forethought. Here are a three suggestions to get you in the groove.

1. Wake them up to a happy mood

It doesn't take much time to give your child a cheery wake-up call in the morning. In fact, it will save time spent on repeated prodding and nagging. Here are a few ways to do it.

  • Give him or her a kiss on the cheek and say, "Good morning, (your child's name). It's time to rise and shine." Some parents even have a favorite song they sing to set a fun mood. Songwriter Jay Walker wrote this gentle wake up song for his kids. Or, you can make up your own little ditty. This can become a family tradition - in a few years they'll be singing the same song to your grandchildren.

  • Lay their clothes out the night before (with their help, so they have a say in the matter). Then they know what they'll be wearing and where it's located. This eliminates arguing about what to wear and minimizes the time it takes to get dressed. Arguing is not a happy way to start the day.

  • Let them know breakfast will be ready in a few minutes. If you're fixing something special, tempt them with it. Or you might hold it as a surprise and say, "You'll be so happy when you see what I'm fixing for breakfast." This approach can be very motivating to your child.

2. Send them out the door with a good breakfast

Now that you've awakened them with a promise of a yummy breakfast, be sure to make it happen. They need a good breakfast to have the energy to meet the duties of their day. Research shows that "Improvements in learning skills, including the ability to concentrate and focus, have been found in students who eat breakfast. According to Nutrition Explorations, students who ate breakfast before school were more likely to receive better test scores and grades compared to the students who did not have breakfast." The Food and Action Research Center says "students who do not have breakfast tend to be hyperactive, have behavioral issues and show difficulty getting along with other students. When feeling hungry, your child's energy levels go down and there is a decrease in overall motivation to pay attention in class and focus on what is being taught."

Providing a healthy breakfast doesn't have to be complicated. Just make sure they get something good to eat. It's your happy attitude that will make them feel loved, and you will feel good for having sent them off prepared for their day. Sites like Pinterest are full of fun breakfast menu ideas.

3. Use more positives than negatives when talking to them

Too often, the first thing a child hears when he or she walks through the door after school is, "Go hang up your coat. How many times do I have to tell you not to throw it on the floor?!" Or "You're late! Where have you been?!"

Those issues can be dealt with a little later, but for now what your child needs to hear, as you hug him or her, is, "Hi, honey. I'm so glad you're home. I have your after-school-snack waiting." Kids are usually famished at that time and parents shouldn't expect them to wait until dinner to eat something. A piece of fruit with a cookie can work wonders. One of our sons loved to pop a bean burrito in the microwave. Munching on that turned him into a really nice kid. They're much happier if their tummies aren't growling.

Take a minute to look at a picture they painted, or a test score they're proud of, or just let them talk about what they can hardly wait to share with you. Don't be critical, just enjoy their enthusiasm. Focus on their qualities. If they hung up their coat, be sure to thank them. Deserved praise is a happiness builder. When they need discipline do it with a soft voice as you look into their eyes.

You can do it

If you are a busy parent who works outside the home, your challenge is greater; however, all of these ideas can be adapted to what works for you. The main thing is, no matter if you are employed or at home, do what you can to show your children how much you adore them. Along with these suggested ideas, give them lots of hugs and always tell them you love them.

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