Sweet Ways to Connect with Your Kids on Valentine's Day -- and Every Day

Experts suggest ways to show love and respect for your children all year long

TUESDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Valentine's Day is an occasion for couples to reaffirm their commitment to each other, but parents should show love for their children every day of the year, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The academy outlines 14 ways to do that:

  • Use plenty of positive words with your child and avoid sarcasm. Never use put-downs.
  • Respond immediately and lovingly to your child's physical and emotional needs, and always be available when your child wants to talk with you.
  • When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give him or her a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection. Talk about the issue when he or she is in a better mood.
  • Use non-violent forms of discipline and start using rewards and restrictions many years before children become teens.
  • Set a good example at home and in public. For example, remember to say things such as "I'm sorry," "please," and "thank you."
  • Make sure to spend time alone with your child doing something he or she enjoys.
  • Have regular family game nights and let all family members take turns choosing the game.
  • Having a family pet can encourage children to be physically active, enhance their overall attitude and provide them with constant companionship. A pet can be especially important for children with chronic illnesses or disabilities.
  • Teach your children about healthy food choices by having them cook with you.
  • Encourage and support children as they develop their skills and abilities in all areas of their lives.
  • Take children to the doctor regularly for preventive health care visits, protect them from accidents, provide them with a nutritious diet, and encourage them to be physically active.
  • Assist children in developing positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.
  • Help children develop self-esteem by providing steady support and encouragement, believing in them, loving them, spending time with them, listening to them and praising their accomplishments.
  • Remember to say "I love you" to children of all ages.

More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers positive parenting tips.

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