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 when talking 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. Be a good role model by treating others how you would like to
- 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 behavior.
- 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 answer. If you see signs of anxiety or depression, ask your
pediatrician for advice on how to help.
- 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. Never respond
in violence if your child is in a bad mood.
- 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. No matter
what your child has done, keeping an open line of communication with the
child is crucial.
- 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
- 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. Refrain
from using any electronic device, including your own phone, during meals.
- 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. A good
place to start is by the use of seat belts or child passenger safety seats
every time you are in a car.
- 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
- 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, 2/18