Valentine's Day Not for Lovers Only

It's a good time to show affection toward children, experts advise

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MONDAY, Feb. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Valentine's Day isn't just for couples.

It's a good opportunity for parents to think about how they can show their love for their children all year round, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here are 14 tips on how to do that:

  • Use plenty of positive words with children.
  • Respond promptly and lovingly to your children's physical and emotional needs, and banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary.
  • Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like "I'm sorry," "please," and "thank you."
  • When children are angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give them a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection they favor and talk to them about their feelings.
  • Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years. If parents allow children of any age to constantly disobey important rules without being disciplined, it only encourages more rule violations.
  • Make plans to spend time with your children to do things they enjoy.
  • Mark family game nights on your calendar, and put a different family member's name under each date. That person gets to choose what game will be played that night.
  • A pet can make children -- especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities -- feel better by stimulating physical activity, providing constant companionship, and enhancing their overall attitude.
  • Encourage children to cook with you to help familiarize them with healthy food choices. Let them be involved in the entire process -- planning the menus, shopping for ingredients, food preparation, and serving.
  • As your children grow, they'll spend most of their time developing and refining a variety of skills and abilities. You should help them as much as possible by encouraging them and providing them with the necessary equipment and instruction.
  • Safeguard children's health by taking them to the doctor regularly, keeping them safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging them to exercise.
  • Help your children foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.
  • Give your children the gift of self-esteem by offering them steady support and encouragement to discover their strengths. Your children need you to believe in them as they learn to believe in themselves.
  • Don't forget to say "I love you" to children of all ages.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers more parenting tips.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, February 2006

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