The following are Valentine's Day tips from
the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Please feel free to excerpt these
tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story with
appropriate attribution of source.
- Use plenty of positive and
encouraging words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm or mockery
and get rid of put-downs from the words you use as a parent. Children
often don’t understand your purpose, and if they do, these messages can
create negative ways of talking and connecting with each other.
- Make an extra effort to set a
good example about how to connect and talk with other people at home and
in public. Use words like "I'm sorry," "please," and
"thank you." Children learn a lot from observing and imitating their parent’s
- Respond promptly and lovingly
to your child's physical and emotional needs. Be available to listen to
your child when he/she wants to talk with you even if it’s not the best
time for you. Ask your child “How was your day?” and listen to the
- When your child is angry,
grouchy or in a bad mood, give him a quick hug, cuddle, pat, secret nod or
other sign of affection he responds to and then consider talking with him about
the event when he’s feeling better.
- Use non-violent forms of
discipline. Parents should start using both rewards and restrictions many
years before adolescence to help establish ways to encourage strengths and
address concerns during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to
constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages
more rules to not be followed.
- Make plans to spend time alone
with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys on a regular
basis. Encourage your child to be active by going on walks, bicycle
riding, or playing ball with you. Consider sending a
Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen. Think about making
Valentine’s Day cards together with your preschool or younger school age
- Mark family game nights on your
calendar so the entire family can look forward to having ways to enjoy
spending time together. Put a different family member's name under each
date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening. Turn off cellphones and/or
tablets during these family times.
- Consider owning a pet if
possible. Having a pet can help make some children, especially those with
chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by increasing their
physical activity, enhancing their overall positive feelings, and offering
another way to connect with someone they care about.
- One of the best ways to have
your child learn more about good food choices is to encourage him to cook
with you. Let him get involved in the entire process, from planning the
menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its
serving. It is wonderful when families eat together as much as possible.
Good food, good conversations. These are excellent times to model healthy food choices.
- As your child grows up, she'll
spend most of her time improving upon a variety of skills and abilities
that she gains in all areas of her life. You should help her as much as
possible by encouraging her and providing the tools and teaching she
needs. Start reading to your child beginning at six months. Avoid TV in
the first two years, monitor and watch TV with your older children and use
TV time as one topic for conversation time with your children. Limit
computer and video games.
- Your child's health depends a
lot on the care and support you offer during his early years. By taking
your child to the doctor regularly for well child or preventive health
care visits, teaching him how to be safe from injuries, providing a
healthy and nutritious diet, and encouraging good amounts of sleep,
physical activity, and exercise throughout childhood, you help protect and
strengthen his mind and body. Model these behaviors for your child(ren) on a daily basis.
- Help your child foster positive
relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.
Consider inviting friends or neighbors to spend time drinking tea, having
a meal, playing a game, or helping others in need. Encourage your
child to play sports or be involved in activities that show teamwork.
- One of your most important
gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child
needs your steady support and help 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 celebrating lessons learned from his
mistakes and successes are all part of this process.
- Don't forget to say "I
love you" to children of all ages!
American Academy of Pediatrics, 2/17