Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Show Your Love All Year

We know that Valentines Day is a reminder to show affection towards those we love. Many parents use this special day to give an extra dose of love to their child. But there’s a multitude of easy, no-cost – yet profound – ways to send this powerful message every day throughout the year.
Why is it critical for your child to feel loved? Because self-esteem is taught, and you are the first and most influential teacher. Children who feel loved and valued by their parents become happier, healthier, and more productive adults.
From tots to teens, here are practical ways to show your love and build your child’s self-esteem. If your child is:

Children spell love, T-I-M-E

*0-6 months – nestle him in your arms and hold the bottle when feeding him (no impersonal bottle propping); look in a mirror together and repeat his name aloud; immediately respond to his cries; lovingly gaze into his eyes, read picture books to him; place him on the floor several times daily to allow him room to exercise muscles.

*6-12 months – teach him the name of his body parts; although messy, permit him to hold a spoon/cup at mealtimes; expect him to grab, taste, touch, poke, pour and dump everything; safety proof; use positive discipline such as redirection; sing songs and play peek-a-boo together; keep regular bath/bed times; and read storybooks aloud to him.
*12-24 months – display his scribbles/artwork on your refrigerator; allow some separation, negativism and independent behavior; encourage genuine affection – never force or coerce a child to hug someone else; when possible offer two simple choices; include your toddler in small chores like sorting laundry or wiping up spills; read story books together; discipline with immediate and related consequences and be consistent in your expectations, responses and words.

*3-5 years – appreciate your preschooler’s need to separate and want independence; understand – but don’t overlook – bossiness as part of language and social development; encourage self-help skills like dressing without your help, teeth brushing, and washing/drying his own hands; teach independent living tasks like how to prepare his cereal or toast then give positive feedback for effort; be consistent in your discipline; allow free time just to play, don’t over-schedule the life of your child; let him read aloud to you; be available but not intrusive when he’s playing contently; ask open ended question to encourage heart-felt conversation; preschoolers dawdle, be patient and avoid saying, “Hurry up!”

*Elementary years – keep your sense of humor! These years can be very trying on parents but they’re difficult for children to maneuver too. Let your child know it’s normal and okay for there to be changes in his maturing body; say two positive things before correcting him or talking about a negative; use your child’s name when giving praise; to reduce stress and increase school performance maintain bedtime routines and hours; encourage self-help skills like packing his own school lunch; help your child feel a sense of belonginess by talking about family traditions and assigning household chores; give eye contact; and remember, often when your child is acting the most unlovable that may be the time he needs to sense your love the most.

Do YOU have a way to show love to your child? Please share it here to help others. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you!

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