Overdoing I Love You
There is no doubt that the unconditional love of her mother and father plays a critical in ensuring a child’s mental and emotional health. Consequently, psychologists recommend that parents regularly remind their little one that she is loved. But I think it is important to make the distinction between “regularly” and “routinely.”
Sometimes well-meaning mothers and fathers unconsciously lapse into making “I love you” a habit. Every time their child goes to bed, every time she leaves the home, every time the telephone conversation is about to end, they make sure to say it. Regrettably, the phrase eventually loses impact through the constant repetition. It becomes an almost meaningless mantra that is met with a mindless “Yeah, I love you too” response.
While I am not suggesting that parents use “I love you” sparingly, I do recommend that they strive to employ it more spontaneously. Instead of reciting it at certain times and in specified places, just let it loose whenever the spirit moves you. An occasional “I love you” coming from out of the blue and uttered with genuine enthusiasm will be infinitely more effective than a habitual barrage.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.