51 Everyday Ways to Love Your Teen (Especially if They’re Not Big on Hugs)

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 51 Everyday Ways to Love Your Teen (Especially if They’re Not Big on Hugs)

When my kids were little, I could wrap my arms around them several times a day and they melted in my affection. When I told them we had to run an errand or go somewhere, they gladly hopped in the car eager to go virtually anywhere with me – even if it meant a quick trip to the grocery store.

A snuggle at night with a good book, a hug and a kiss when they skinned their knee, a nap on my lap after a morning at the park – they loved being with me, they loved the comfort of my arms and they loved being, well… loved.

But now they’re teenagers…

Boy, have things changed. Most notably the rules of engagement. I know they love me. That part is clear. But the manner in which they show affection (which, let’s face it, isn’t too often) and the manner in which they allow me to show affection toward them has changed dramatically.

Still, the one thing I’ve learned about teenagers is that even though they act all cool, strut around with an “I totally got this, I don’t need you” attitude and pretend any hint of physical affection or outward showing of love is totally lame (and embarrassing), deep down inside, not only do they need it, they crave it.

With their size 11 shoes, towering presence, and adult “ish” perspectives, they’re still little on the inside.

They want to be recognized. They want to be loved. They want us to make them feel special and adored and cherished. And, they want our physical affection (on their terms, of course).

Rather than taking our teen’s newly adopted “hands-off” behavior personally, we have to look for new and creative ways to show our love and affection – ways that don’t require a formal invitation.

They may decline our invitations to go somewhere or hang out, they may not sit arm to arm watching a movie together (although some teens do) and they may not be overly accepting of those long, warm hugs we miss more than anything in the world. But whether they admit it or not, they do want us to continue to express our love in other ways.

Don’t give up just because your (somewhat moody) teen has decided they’re too darn cool for outward shows of affection. Try a few of these easy and heartfelt ways to love your teen – especially if they’re not big on hugs or kisses. 

51 Everyday Ways to Love Your Teen (Especially if They’re Not Big on Hugs)



#1 Stop what you’re doing and smile at them when they walk into the room.

#2 Make them their favorite snack or dinner.

#3 Run an errand for them – any errand.

#4 Say “Yes” to something you would normally say “No” to.

#5 Offer to drive them and their friends somewhere.

#6 Let them have their friends over and spring for a few snacks and drinks.

#7 Let them hang out in their room without taking their desire for privacy personal.

#8 Let them choose the music in the car. (Bring earplugs, just in case.)

#9 Compliment them as a person – their dedication, sense of humor, what a good friend they are, how proud you are of their efforts, etc.

#10 Send them a heartfelt or funny text to let them know you’re thinking of them.

#11 Let them choose where to eat.

#12 Leave little notes in unexpected places – their bathroom mirror, on the steering wheel in the car, in their backpack, on their pillow, etc.

#13 Make their lunch for them. 

#14 Ask them, “What can I do to make your day easier?”

#15 Treat them to breakfast, lunch or dinner at their favorite restaurant.

#16 Let them choose the movie.

#17 Help them ditch (at least) one unhealthy habit.

#18 Be their biggest cheerleader. (It starts by just showing up.)

#19 Listen… really listen.

#20 Surprise them by planning something fun you know they’d like to do.

#21 Cut them some slack when they mess up – they’re learning.

#22 Give them something of yours that has sentimental value.

#23 Show them you trust them by letting them borrow something of yours.

#24 Tell them they were right and you were wrong.

#25 Tuck them in at night (no… they’re not too old).

#26 Share a midnight snack and ask them about their life, their friends, their interests, their world. 

#27 Tidy their bedroom (if they won’t freak out).

#28 Share one of your childhood memories or experiences with them.

#29 Make it a point to love them the hardest in their most unlovable moments.

#30 Ask for their advice or help with something important.

#31 Do one of their chores for them… just because.

#32 Share funny videos that might make them laugh.

#33 Let them be the smart one for a change.

#34 Take one thing off their plate that’s stressing them out.

#35 Actually play a video game with them.

#36 Help them with their homework.

#37 Let them overhear you bragging about them to friends and family.

#38 Offer to give them a backrub when they’ve had a long day.

#39 Change the sheets on their bed and leave a new cozy throw on their bed (yes, boys love cozy blankets, too!).

#40 Help them achieve a goal they’ve been striving for. (If you can’t help them, support them.)

#41 Bake their favorite homemade dessert for no reason at all.

#42 Respect their need for more autonomy.

#43 Let them sleep in – guilt-free.

#44 Make them breakfast in bed – because, why not?

#45 Teach them something they want or need to learn – how to cook their favorite meal, change a tire, bargain shop for clothes, etc.

#46 Be a strong shoulder to lean on when life gets hard.

#47 Let the little things go (not everything matters).

#48 Tell them you have faith in their abilities.

#49 Pray for them.

#50 Slip in as many hugs and kisses as you can (at least until you see them cringe).

#51 Tell them “I Love You.” Say it often. Say it every day. Say it so they never forget, never question it and never doubt it.

What are your everyday ways to love your teen? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The greatest gift I can give my children is my time, my affection and my love.


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Noble C. Joshua July 14, 2021 - 7:51 pm

Being candor, I love it here. The tips are so real and applicable. No unrealistic principles. I Love This Community And That Effervescently.

Nancy Reynolds July 18, 2021 - 10:04 am

I’m happy to hear you’re finding “real and applicable” tips here! That’s our goal! I’m so happy you found our community!

Nancy Reynolds August 1, 2021 - 6:25 pm

Thank you! That means SO much! As a mom of three, I try to keep everything very “real.” I “get” what it’s like to raise teens and I want to pass along relatable content that makes life with teenagers perhaps a little easier and, dare I say, fun!

Heidi Press September 13, 2022 - 7:40 am

Wake them up yourself instead of an alarm clock


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