Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for love, but the other 364 days are great for that, too. As a parent, you have the double-duty of wanting to make your spouse and your kids feel special – and all the more so on Valentine’s Day.
To embrace your kids with Valentine’s love, try these three powerful ideas that will leave no doubt they’re the apple of your eye.
• The power of kind words
Despite what’s said about “sticks and stones”, words can have a huge impact on how children see themselves. Think about the potentially negative impact of a phrase such as, “You are always doing stupid things!” Or, “You act more like a baby than your little sister.” We all know that raising a child can be frustrating (our words sometimes reflect that frustration), but let this Valentine’s Day serve as a reminder of the positive power of our words. Make a commitment to use your words to develop your children’s self-esteem. Praise their accomplishments, no matter how small. Let them know you’re proud, for example, of the A+ they got on their spelling test or the improvement they’re making in whichever subject. Talk about the beautiful colors they used in their drawings. Tell them how excited you are to see them when they arrive home from school.
• The power of positive reinforcement
Think about how easily and how often parents react negatively to their child’s bad behavior. Now compare that to the amount of time spent praising them for good behavior. If you’re like many parents, you may find yourself spending more time correcting than complimenting. This Valentine’s Day (and on the other days, too), let your kids know when they’ve done something good. Tell them how much you appreciate their taking out the garbage without asking. Or when they make their beds in the morning, clean up their plate at dinner, or brush their teeth at night. When they share their toys or give up the last chicken nugget, tell them how great they are at sharing.
• The power of time
For many moms and dads – especially working moms and dads – spending time with the kids is usually centered on homework, a hurried meal, a bath, a bit of TV, and then a quick chat before bed. Here are two tips for finding the extra minutes for spending more time with the kids:
1. Get up a little bit earlier to eat breakfast with your child. Even 10 minutes a day comes out to nearly an extra hour each week.
2. Host a family night one day each week. Do something fun or different where everyone in the family can participate. Play a game such as charades or watch home videos. How about going out for ice cream or having a “make your own sundae” night? Find a book that everyone can enjoy and take turns reading.
Of course, saying “I love you” is a great pick-me-up any day of the year.