Life with children can be messy and complicated, and it’s easy to let your etiquette go out the window when your child says something emotional and over-the-top like, “I love you.” Here are five things you can do to keep your response polite and professional when this situation comes up.
1. Offer a firm handshake
When your toddler runs up to you and screams, “I love you, Mommy,” try extending a hand to initiate a strong, confident handshake to send him the message that you respect and value his input. Make sure to maintain eye contact in order to let him know that you are sincere in your commitment to fostering an amiable, mutually beneficial partnership together.
2. Say,“I appreciate that. It means a lot coming from you.”
It can be easy to get swept up by emotion if your daughter draws you a picture and says, “I made this for you because I love you,” so it’s always a good idea to deescalate the situation by responding, “I appreciate that. It means a lot coming from you.” This is a great phrase to have in your arsenal to keep the conversation professional and appropriate. Expressing your gratitude will give your child the sense that her love has been duly noted and will be on your radar moving forward, and will remind her that she is a valuable member of your family’s team.
3. Send a handwritten thank-you note
Everyone appreciates a handwritten card, so a gesture like this is the ultimate way to add a personal yet polished touch to the way you respond to your child when they say they love you. When your son or daughter says, “I love you,” mailing them a note that says, “Thanks so much—it’s always great to hear from you,” is a polite courtesy to extend to them in return.
4. Reciprocate with a compliment
When your son whispers, “I love you,” to you at bedtime, this can be a great time to compliment him on his behavior as your child. Saying something like, “Those are lovely Paw Patrol pajamas,” or “I really enjoyed your story about the big dog you saw this morning,” is an easy and tactful way to maintain proper conversational etiquette.
5. Bow deeply
In many cultures, a bow is a sign of great respect, so this is a great formal option for thanking your child when she blows you a kiss or extends her arms to say, “I love you THIS much!” A simple bow will communicate your profound esteem for your child—a perfect way to maintain the foundation of cordiality and professionalism you have worked so hard to cultivate in your relationship with her.