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Valentine’s Day gets many people thinking about love. But in truth, love is something you show your children every day, through actions big and small.
Our actions speak more of love than all the candy, cards, and grand gestures in the world.
“While we mark holidays, children count every day as a reminder of how much they are valued, loved and respected,” says Peter A. Gorski, MD, an advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, HealthyChildren.org. “Seemingly small efforts to give a child our full attention, to appreciate a child’s interests, to acknowledge a child’s genuine feelings — these have huge effects and rich rewards well beyond the moment.”
Here, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, are some ideas on how to be a more loving parent. Better than a bouquet of roses, these dozen tips will bring smiles to your child’s face all year long.
• Use plenty of positive words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm, as children often don’t understand it, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction. Banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary.
• Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs. Remember, there is amazing power in a simple hug.
• Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”
• Make plans to spend time alone with your child or teen doing something he enjoys. There is nothing more valuable you can give your child than your time and undivided attention.
• When your child is angry, argumentative, or in a bad mood, give him a hug, or other gesture of affection. Don’t escalate things by getting mad as well. A simple statement like, “I see you are feeling angry today” can help validate him and defuse the situation. When he calms down, talk with him about his feelings.
• Use non-violent forms of discipline. Structure, rules, and limits are important to all children. Punishments can include time-outs or suspending privileges, such as television time or other activities. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without discipline only encourages more rule violations.
• Your child’s health depends on the care and guidance you offer during the early years. By taking your child to the doctor regularly, keeping him safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, making sure he gets enough sleep, and encouraging exercise, you help protect and strengthen his body.
• Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings, and members of the community. Encourage cooperation in your home rather than competition between siblings. Organize get-togethers with extended family, and make your child’s friends feel welcome in your home. Help your child connect with a larger community through sports and activity programs, community groups, or your church or synagogue.
• Mark family nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose the game or activity for the evening. Choices can include board games, playing basketball, taking a walk together, or even doing a creative craft.
• Let your child cook with you to familiarize him with good food choices. Involve your child in the entire process, from planning the menus, to shopping for ingredients, to the actual food preparation and serving. Not only will your child eat better, but you will also turn a daily chore into a fun, shared experience.
• Help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him, and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.
• Don’t forget to say, “I love you,” every day to children of all ages.
KiKi Bochi, an award-winning journalist, reads hundreds of reports monthly to bring readers the latest insights on family health and child development.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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