PhotoYour little ones likely have a big piece of your heart, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show them how loved they are. But sweet treats and heart-emblazoned gifts aren’t the only ways to make your kids feel special.

Child health experts say parents can show kids they’re loved in a number of ways, including by simply being there for them and believing in them. 

“One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem,” said the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a statement. 

Under the steady support and love of a parent, a child’s self-esteem has an opportunity to blossom. And when your child discovers his or her self-esteem, they are also more likely to discover their unique strengths and abilities.

Ways to show love

Beyond allowing self-esteem to flourish, a parent’s love and support can pave the way for a future filled with positive relationships and good physical health. 

Here are a few ways to make your kids feel loved and supported on Valentine’s Day and every day, according to the AAP:

  • Be positive. Avoid mockery, sarcasm, and put-downs when talking with your children. Instead, use encouraging words and set a good example on how to deal with other people by using words such as “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”
  • Respond to their needs. Stay tuned into your child’s emotional and physical needs and always be ready to listen to them. When a bad mood strikes, give them a hug or other sign of affection and talk with them about the event when they’re in a better mood.
  • Make Valentine’s Day cards. Get crafty with your preschool and school-aged children ahead by making Valentine’s Day cards. Consider sending your teen a valentine; every age is an important age to tell your kids you love them.
  • Spend time with them. Spend one-on-one time with your child doing things they enjoy. Encourage them to be active by playing sports with them or bicycle riding and have regular family nights during which cell phones and devices are turned off.
  • Teach them about healthy eating. To encourage healthy eating, provide a healthy and nutritious diet and get kids involved in the cooking process. Kids can help plan menus, shop for ingredients, or help with food preparation and serving.
  • Take them to the doctor regularly. Teach your child how to avoid injuries and take them to the doctor for preventative health care visits. Additionally, make sure they’re getting good amounts of sleep and exercise.
  • Don’t use violent forms of punishment. Long before their teenage years, kids should be used to following rules. Use a discipline system involving both rewards and restrictions.
  • Monitor media use. Start reading to kids when they are 6 months old. Avoid TV for the first two years of life. For older children, monitor and limit their screen time.
  • Help them develop positive relationships. Good relationships with siblings, friends, neighbors, and other people are important. Help your child foster these relationships by playing a game, inviting friends or neighbors over for a meal, or by encouraging your child to be involved in a sport that involves teamwork.

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