14 Ways to Show Love for Your Child This Valentine's Day and Everyday

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers tips to parents on how to show love to children on Valentine’s Day and every day. Please feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story with appropriate attribution of source.

1. Use plenty of positive words with children. Try to avoid using sarcasm. Children often don’t understand it, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.

2. Respond promptly and lovingly to physical and emotional needs and banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary. Be available to listen when your child wants to talk even if it’s an inconvenient time.

3. Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like "I'm sorry," "please," and "thank you."

4. When a child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, offer a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection, then talk about it at a better time.

5. Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.

6. Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen by doing something fun. Send a Valentine’s Day card to older children or teens. Make Valentine’s Day cards together with preschool or younger school age children.

7. Mark family game nights on the calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member's name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.

8. Owning a pet can make children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by stimulating physical activity, enhancing their overall attitude, and offering constant companionship.

9. One of the best ways to familiarize children with good food choices is to encourage them to cook. Get children involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving. It is wonderful when families eat together as much as possible. Good food, good conversations.

10. As children grow up, most time will be spent developing and refining a variety of skills and abilities in all areas of life. Parents can help as much as possible by encouraging and providing the needed equipment and instruction. Start reading beginning at six months. Avoid TV in the first two years, monitor and watch TV with older children and use TV time as conversation time. Limit computer and video games.

11. Children’s health depends significantly on the care and guidance offered by parents during the early years. By going to the doctor regularly for preventive health care visits, keeping safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging exercise throughout childhood – all of these things will help protect and strengthen growing bodies.

12. Help children foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.

13. One of the most important gifts as a parent is to help children develop self-esteem. By providing steady support and encouragement they can discover strengths. Providing love, spending time together, listening, and praising accomplishments are all part of this process.

14. Don't forget to say, "I love you" to children of all ages!

American Academy of Pediatrics, 2/13

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Debbie Jacobson
American Academy of Pediatrics
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