With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it is a great time to think about ways you can say and show your child how much you love them. Unconditional love and affection are some of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Studies for example have found that the physical affection infants receive for their caretakers actually helps develop the parts of the brain and infants who are deprived of affection are far more likely to have social, emotional, and mental problems as adults (Harmon, 2010). The need for verbal and physical expressions of love continues throughout childhood. In addition to helping children feel more secure, love and affection have also been shown to act as buffer against childhood stress and trauma (Bergland, 2013).
While it is important for children to feel loved every day, it is always fun to do something new and different. Here are five fun ways to show love to you kids on the 14th:
1. Write a note. Take some time to write a note to your child about how much you love him or her and why. My daughters love when I take the time to write something special to them and as an added bonus, older children can save these notes as reminders of their parent’s love.
2. Share a snack. Pinterest and the internet are full of cute and clever valentine’s snack ideas. Even something as simple as cutting a grilled cheese sandwich into the shape of a heart or putting a few drops of red food coloring in a glass of milk can show your child that you care and make snack or meal time more fun.
3. Let your child pick. Show your child that you value his or her thoughts and ideas and let him or her decide what is for dinner, what show to watch on tv, or what game to play as a family. If you have more than one kid assign a choice to each child. Make sure you respond positively to your child’s choice. Sure, hotdogs or chicken nuggets might not be what you were craving, but your child’s happiness will be worth it.
4. Have a love hunt. This one takes a little bit of planning, but is easy and free. Simply cut out as many hearts as you want from paper and hide them around the house and have your kids hunt for them. As an added bonus, you can celebrate finding all of the hearts with some valentine’s candy or a special dessert.
5. Tuck them in. You might already do this, but take some time as your child is going to sleep to hug and kiss them good night and remind them that you love them no matter what. Even if you have older kids who put themselves to bed, make a point to have the last thing they hear from you be, “I love you.”