Advice Column, Child, Parenting, Toddler

14 Days for Loving Your Child

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FEB 1: HIDE LOVE NOTES OR SURPRISES – Toddlers to teens love to be surprised. Hide a small valentine, an encouraging note, or a small valentine chocolate somewhere for them to find each day leading up to Valentine’s Day. Get creative and mix it up.  You could also leave a note each day in one place that contains clues to helping them find what you’ve hidden.

FEB 2: READ A SPECIAL BOOK – Find a child’s illustrated book that sends a message of love and commit to reading it to your children every night, leading up to Valentine’s Day.  My favorite is the book LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw.  It sends the message that I’ll always love you unconditionally, no matter how you behave and well into your adult years.

FEB 3: PLAN A PARTY – Help your child plan a V-Day party with all of their friends. For one activity at the party, provide a personalized mailbox (or bag) for each child. On blank slips of paper, have each child write down words that describe what they like about each of the other kids, one child per slip of paper. They will deposit them in each others’ mailboxes.

FEB 4: BE AFFECTIONATE WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER – Teach your children about love by expressing love for your significant other in front of them. Children who have healthy models of affection around them are likely to recreate in their adulthood what they witnessed as children. When your significant other and you argue or fight in front of the children, be sure and let the kids see the two of you makeup.

FEB 5: SCHEDULE A DATE – Schedule a special Valentine date with each of your children. Put it on your calendar and tell your child so they will have something to look forward to. Scheduling in these dates ahead of time ensures they will happen. Then everything else that is less important can fill in around them. Why not schedule a date with your significant other as well? Do this every Sunday night for the week to come.

FEB 6: FRAME A PICTURE OF THE TWO OF YOU – Take a picture of you and your child, frame it, and then give it to your child to put in his or her room on the dresser or night table. If you have more than one child, create one for each of them. For an older child, put a picture of the two of you in a locket that the child can wear. This will also help calm a child who feels anxious when being away from the parent.

FEB 7: THE ENCOURAGEMENT FEAST – Use the ENCOURAGEMENT FEAST exercise with your family. Each person takes a turn in the center of the circle, facing each person who states one thing they love about the person in the center. Before the person in the center steps back into the circle, they must state one thing they love about them self. Then someone else steps into the circle. See the video

FEB 8: GIVE 100% OF YOUR ATTENTION – When your child approaches you to get your attention, stop what you’re doing, get to your child’s eye level, silence your mind-chatter, and remain completely quiet while your child speaks. Nothing feels better to a child (or an adult) who has something to say, than the sense of getting 100% of that adults attention in that moment.

FEB 9: MOVIE NIGHT – Have a movie night with your child(ren), complete with big pillows to snuggle up with and a big bowl of popcorn. The one difference in making this night special is that the movie being featured will be the home movies you have of your child(ren)!

FEB 10: CRAFT PROJECT– Using a family meeting, have everyone create a craft project that represents love to them. Provide a wide selection of contraction paper and craft supplied and allow your children to create whatever comes to mind. Put the creations on display for everyone to see and enjoy, and photograph them to look at for many year to come.

FEB 11- SHARE HOW YOU LOVE YOURSELF– Create teachable moments with your child when they are open to learning, by explain (and demonstrating) what you dod to love yourself. This might be a tough exercise for some, but teaching a child to love himself starts by setting a healthy example they can use.

FEB 12- MAILBOXES–  In a family meeting have everyone make and decorate a mailbox using any household craft item. On slips of paper, have everyone write short love notes to everyone at the table as a practice run and then insert them in the appropriate mailboxes. Have everyone hang their mailboxes on their bedroom door knobs, for accepting mail whenever someone desires to write a note.

FEB 13- FIND OUT WHAT MAKES THEM FEEL LOVED: Ask your child what he likes others to do or for him that makes him feel loved. Dr. Gary Chapman, in his book the five love languages of children, explains how each individual feels loved in different ways; receiving gifts, hearing words of affirmation, acts of kindness, or touch. Ask your child which one makes him feel love.

FEB 14: COMPOSE A POEM FOR YOUR CHILD: Compose a poem about your child or describe how much you love her. Print it off on special preprinted paper with a border that can be purchased at office supply stores. Frame it and hang it on your child’s bedroom wall. You could even include the child’s picture or her foot or handprints if you had done them earlier. Sign it and read it to her nightly.

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