5 Habits to Show Kids Love

posted in: attitudinal | 15

Homeschool lists! Let’s talk and share all sorts of lists this month during The Nester’s 31 Days series. I’ll share my lists, from managing day to day details to book lists to checklists to supply lists – rest assured, if it can be listed, I have listed it. So I pulled my best lists – yes, I had to abridge and combine the list of lists to bring it down to 31 – and I’ll be sharing them this month. I’m looking forward to it!

Organize your homeschool lists

I’m not the most naturally affectionate or tenderhearted mother. As much as I do love my children dearly, it is hard for me to remember to show kids love like I ought. As far as Myers-Briggs typing goes, I am an INTJ, and one personality description I’ve read specifically calls out INTJ as not an ideal type for mothering.

But that’s where I am and I’m so thankful for it. It makes me own my faults and necessitates my growth. Motherhood is one of the best forges for sanctification.

So, as someone who is a compulsive list-maker and systematizer, but not a naturally affectionate type, I have a list to fall back on when I sense that I’m dropping the ball on communicating to my children that I love them and am so thankful to be with them day in and day out, even though it often feels like a madhouse.

To many of you, this might seem totally ridiculous and flabbergasting and cold and calculating, but it’s a way for me to cope and remember to show outwardly, at least a little bit, the warmth and love I really do feel for my progeny. INFPs and ISFJs and other Fs, you might want to cover your eyes and skip this post.

Homeschooling Lists Every Day

Index: Get Organized with Homeschool Lists
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Next: 5 Lists to Keep to Feel Organized

How to show kids love

5 Ways to Keep the Kids’ Tanks Full of Affection

This is a list I’ve made a few times in a brain-dump sort of a way, but it’s not one I actually refer to or use, except for a short period of time when I was working on making sure these actually happened habitually and I wasn’t just assuming they were when I was actually caught up in my own head.

However, it’s not like it’s a checkbox sort of a list. :)

1. Smile into their eyes and give them a hug first thing in the morning.

Ok, well, for awhile not too long ago “Hug each child” was a checkbox on my command clipboard. I realized I was giving out 3-4 hugs each morning, but not necessarily 5. I didn’t want to unintentionally leave someone out, so I made sure I built the habit of hugging each child the first time I laid eyes on them in the morning.

2. Look at them when they talk to you, even if it’s to show you their millionth Lego creation.

Another habit I had to consciously cultivate: look at the child while talking, not mm-hmming while still looking at the computer screen or book page. Yes, then sometimes it definitely does feel like there’s no point in even trying to read or write – and when it feels that way, it’s probably because it’s true and I shouldn’t be trying to at that time.

In a good-faith effort, I’ve even been trying to find something specific to notice and mention with each drawing or Lego creation, which has felt like really going the extra mile and above the call of duty, but it’s actually probably more like just the call of duty.

3. Always say goodnight with hugs and well-wishes.

We don’t do elaborate bedtime rituals, but even small ones still do count for something (I hope). At the end of the day, often my interaction points are all used up. Still, a look into the eyes, a smile, a hug, a kiss, and a “good night” really isn’t so hard as it sometimes feels it will be when I’m heading up the stairs.

4. Request their help.

Kids like to be needed and help out in real ways. Somehow, this doesn’t translate into them liking to do their chores – go figure.

But if I can find a dinner-making job or carrying in groceries for me or buckling the baby into her carseat – and if I request it as politely as I wish them to talk to each other – and if I express gratitude and happiness when they chirp, “Ok!” and do it – then it’s relationship building.

Hm, maybe that would work for chores, too.

5. Make dumb jokes; extra points if its at your own expense.

How to show kids love

A few years ago Rachel Jankovic and Mary Ostyn told me I needed a better sense of humor in my mothering approach. I’m glad I listened, even if I’m not nearly as good at it as they are. I am not good at being silly, but using humor (which, turns out, can be wry dryness but not biting sarcasm) is a good way to build camaraderie and team spirit – that is, a way to cultivate relationship.

Look at the bright side: Humor, at least, is better than emotionally charged heart-to-hearts. :)


Are you often frustrated with the repetitive nature of housework? Do you wonder if it’s even worth your time at all? Do you get angry when your work is immediately undone by your little ones?

If so, Rejoicing in Repetition: Toward Joy in Housework, a meditation on the beauty found in the mundane and repetitious, will lift you up and help you regain a clear perspective.

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What are ways that you demonstrate affection with your kids?

15 Responses

  1. Liz
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    This is a great post for me, as a fellow INTJ with the same struggles! (Now I know why everything you write makes so much sense to me! There aren’t too many of us in the mothering world, it seems.)

    • Mystie Winckler
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      You’re right, I don’t think many INTJs end up as mommy bloggers. :) I even read one description of INTJ that said we don’t make good mothers! But that was because we have to be intellectually engaged and the author of that description clearly thought mothering was boring and all diapers and blocks. Motherhood has plenty of challenge to keep us engaged, though.

  2. Ashley
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    I’m relieved to see another INTJ’s listing for showing affection. I struggle with outward displays of affection and always keep a small list on the fridge to remind myself of how each child’s primary love language.

  3. Amy
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    I am an ISTJ and love this list. Thank you for sharing. I think that at times, to some, it seems so counter-intuitive or silly or wrong to make lists like this, but when things like this don’t come naturally to you, I have found a list can help. I also have similar lists for reaching out to friends and for nurturing my relationship with my husband, because if I put it on my list, it is much more likely to happen.

  4. Windhover Farm
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    Although I don’t know what I am on the Myers-Brigg I do have difficulty showing affection. Only half the nights do my kids get a hug and kiss goodnight. I’m just so “I can’t be with you a second longer!” It’s a relief to know I’m not the only homeschool mom out there who isn’t all snuggles and cuddles. I never thought to put hugs etc on a list. Lists are something my personality does do so why not. (Thankfully my husband makes up for in boat loads where I lack in affection or else my poor kids…)

  5. […] Get Organized with Homeschool Lists Previous: 5 Ways to Keep Kids’ Tanks Full Next: Ancient History Cycle Book […]

  6. elizabethe
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    I’m an INFP and I have a hard time with this too. I really appreciate this list too. esp. about eye contact. I’m putting your morning hug on my habit list app right away.

    • Mystie Winckler
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      What habit app are you using, Elizabethe?

  7. Amber
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    I’m INTJ too, and I thought your post was great! I have never seen anything about INTJs not being suited for motherhood (although I can’t say it surprises me) but I have seen things that describe us as good at logistics and particularly well suited as military commanders. (and sometimes I feel like that, with five kids – especially when out and about!) I think having more than the average number of kids actually works well for an INTJ – it gives us more to work with and forces us to see the intellectual challenges of motherhood and running a family. I think with fewer kids I would be more likely to spend that mental energy elsewhere and my house would just sort of limp along with my lack of attention. But with five kids, there’s just no hope unless I use the skills I have to engage and consider and plan in the home rather than in some other field of work. Well, I suppose given enough money I could hire it all out and not bother, but that’s not in the cards around here!

    BTW, I’m using Chains.cc for habit tracking. My husband uses it and I’m enjoying it. I was a little concerned about becoming obsessive with it (ok, I’m still concerned about that) but so far so good.

    Hmm… I think the kids have finished their kitchen work and now it is my turn. Either that or they all need to be yelled at (oh wait, redirected…) I suppose that means I should go do that. :-)

    • Mystie Winckler
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      I had never thought of that as a reason I’ve always been attracted to having a larger family. I prefer to think it has something to do with convictions rather than just my personality, but the logistical and managerial challenge is envigorating. It’s also probably why the new baby stage is not my favorite. It’s precious and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, but I’m glad it’s short – it’s boring yet still exhausting. :)

      I just have to remember to shift from seeing the logistical challenge all the time and see the individual people as persons and not pawns in my game. :)

      I haven’t seen chains.cc. Thanks!

      • Amber
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        Oh, certainly convictions have everything to do with it! I mention it more in the spirit of saying that I think an INTJ personality is more likely to thrive with more kids than with fewer. It is probably easier on the kids too – after two kids or so I think it gets a lot harder to micromanage them! But yes, I do have to remind myself that they aren’t my minions or pawns occasionally too. :-)

        I’m not entirely sure I’m sold on chains.cc. I wish it had more of a social component for it, although I do like the simplicity of the interface, the way it displays the chains, and the fact that it is a website and an app.

        • Mystie Winckler
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          I love your point that it’s probably better for the kids that an INTJ mom have more kids than fewer. Losing the ability to make my plans happen as I want them to has been good for me, for sure!

          Have you seen lift.do for habit tracking? That’s what I’m currently trying out.

  8. Mama Shepperd
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    Here’s a big Amen from another INTJ stay-at-home homeschool mom of many (well, 4 so far, anyway!) Remembering to show affection regularly is also a weakness of mine. I found it so interesting, your list here are the exact things I have been working to cultivate in myself, though they were more vague ideas than concrete goals so far. Seeing it written out as you have here, I think, will make it easier to be more purposeful about it, so thank you!
    I also resonate with Amber’s comment above that having more rather than fewer children may be a better fit for an INTJ mama. It definitely brings more challenges to the plate, but I think that really helps us (me!) let go of some of the perfectionism that would otherwise drive us all crazy Lol!

  9. […] 5 Habits to Show Kids Love at Simply Convivial, Mystie offers some very practical ways to keep kids’ tanks full of […]