How to Raise a Happy, Cooperative Child

Parenting Strategies for All Ages

Seven Ways to Show Your Child Love on Valentine's Day

When you say, “I love you” to your child on Valentine’s Day

When you say, “I love you” to your child on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, it is wonderful. Your child feels assured that you care. Parents often fail to use these words either because they take it for granted that the child knows, or in their own experience as children, their parents never said it to them. But, children have a strong need to hear, “I love you.” As adults, many people continue to feel bad that they never heard these words from their parents when they were growing up. There are other important steps you need to take to communicate your love.

1. Make sure to spend time alone with your child every day, even if it is just sitting down for a few minutes to catch up at the end of the day. When you ask a child, “Tell me about your day,” you show interest in her. If you play a game of Candyland with her before bedtime, you convey that you enjoy being with her and that she is valuable to you. To a child, time = attention = love.

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2. Give your child tons of affection. Physical contact with your child such as a hug, or touching a child's shoulder when you walk by, helps fill your child's need for closeness with you.

3. Listen and respond to your child when he talks to you. In the hustle and bustle of family life, parents are often distracted. When you stop what you are doing, and give your child your full attention, he feels he is important. If you are busy, you can say, “I really want to hear you. I just need a minute to finish what I am doing.”

4. Praise your child often. Children gain a great deal from the sense that you feel they are competent. If you compliment her drawing or hug her when she sets the table, you convey that she is valuable and you care.

5. Always thank your child for the small gestures he makes. You might say, for instance, “Thank you for bringing me the tissue.” If he senses that you feel he is a good child, he will feel he is lovable.

6. Say, “I’m sorry,” when you have said or done anything to hurt your child's feelings. Many parents are afraid to take responsibility for their mistakes. They worry that it means that they have been a bad parent. In truth, by acknowledging your mistakes, you are taking good care of your child. You are showing deep concern for her feelings. As you apologize, you also set a standard for your child’s behavior. She must observe her behavior, take responsibility when she errs, and make amends.

7. Surprise your child with gifts that will please him. When you buy your child the scented markers he has wanted or some dinosaur figurines because he loves them, you show that you are in tune with what pleases him and you want him to be happy.

 

Meri Wallace, LCSW, is a parenting expert and child and family therapist.

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