The need for love is the greatest of all human needs. Children who don't receive love cannot fulfill their God-given potential for a fulfilling, contributing life. While children's workers at church spend relatively brief amounts of time with children, our effect on boys and girls must
not be minimized.

Small tokens of love from a children's teacher can sometimes have an impact way out of proportion to the significance of the event. Here are 10 simple ways to show your children you love them.

1. Learn their names.
This isn't always easy, since we often have the children for only a brief period once a week. Help your memory by using nametags for the first several weeks of class. Constantly review children's names. Mentally try to link the child's name with something Memorable about him or her. For example, "Melody is miniature size," or " Ben has brown hair" or "Sam's smile is sensational."

2. Be a patient listener. Let's face it. Children's narratives can sometimes be tedious, filled with long pauses, repeated words, and more details than anyone really cares to hear. However, really LISTENING to a child says, "I care. I'm interested in you." To show that you are listening, it sometimes helps to interject a question or comment in the narrative. For example, "That must have been a lot of fun," or "How did you feel when your brother did that?"

3. Make eye contact. While you will want to avoid prolonged stares, making brief eye contact with a child communicates that you are listening and attentive.

4. Remember birthdays and other special events. Send greeting cards and small, inexpensive treats. Recognize birthdays in your classroom. Take photos of the children during activities and display these in the classroom or give them copies.

5. Occasionally attend something of importance to the child: sports events, musical recitals, school events.

6. Welcome children warmly when they come to class, and give them time to share the events of their week. Questions I like to use are: "How was your week--good, bad, or average? What was the best thing that happened all week? What was the worst thing that happened?" As children respond, rejoice or commiserate with them as appropriate.

7. Remember the children who always come. Absentees often receive postcards or phone calls urging them to return to class. By contrast, regular attendees can sometimes be overlooked. Occasionally call or write these children to express your appreciation for their regular attendance and participation.

8. Notice things about your children. Is Jana wearing a particularly attractive dress? Tell her so. Has Nathan lost a tooth? Let him tell about it. Is Joshua sporting new shoes? Admire the special features he points out. This attentiveness tells children they are important to you.

9. Praise good work, good behavior, and good effort. According to some specialists, it takes several positive remarks to undo the effect of one negative comment. Some children hear mostly commands and negatives: "Sit up straight." "Why can't you . . .?" "You never . . . ." or " You always . . . ." Help to balance these with honest praise of the good things you notice: "You're doing a great job on that picture," "Thanks for waiting so patiently for the tape." "You're really improving in raising your hand before you talk." When praising a child, ALWAYS be sincere, and be SPECIFIC about what you praise.

10. Say good things about a child to his or her parents, in the child's hearing. A few weeks ago, my children made gift soaps for their mothers for Christmas. They were busy wrapping their packages. One child had not attended during the early weeks of this extended project, so he did not have any. Another child had decorated more soap bars than the others. When I asked her, privately, whether she would be willing to let the first child have a couple of soaps, she readily agreed. Without complaint, she gave him bars, including one she described as "the prettiest." I lost no time telling Mom and Dad about her generosity--to the delight of both parents and child. It doesn't take a lot of time, or vast amounts of money, to say "I love
you" to a child. Time and sincere interest speak volumes and may help a child with negative self-image to realize that he or she matters to you and to God.

11. Visit the child where he or she lives.
A. Establish who you are: “Hi! I’m Betty Robertson, Sherri’s Sunday School teacher.”

B. Indicate why you came: “Sherri was absent this past Sunday from my class and I really missed

C. Try to get a reason for the absence: “I hope she wasn’t sick.”

D. Relate depending on response:

(1) If sick: “I’m sorry to hear that. Does she still have the flu?”

(2) Out-of-town: “She is such an important part of our class. It’s not quite the same without her.”

(3) Just didn’t want to come: “She is so special. I really miss her when she’s not in my class.”

E. Talk with the child: “Your Mom tells me _____________.” I miss you when you are not in our
class. (Give some assignment.) Would you be willing to complete this puzzle and bring it
this week? I’d like to use it as an answer sheet.”