Love is in the air, and Valentine’s day is the perfect opportunity to show your child just how much you love them! While February can be a busy time for families, building in a little extra love for your little one this Valentine’s day can be easy and fun, in addition to bringing you closer together while progressing development and growth!
Experiencing gratitude is more than just saying “thank you” when handed something. It’s a strategy to reset even the youngest minds and focus on favorable aspects of life! Modeling appreciation for what you have will build your child’s ability to focus thoughts on thankfulness and positivity. You can do this for your child by pointing out your grateful outlook on items, people, actions, by having your children assist you in giving/donating, and asking your child to reflect on meaningful aspects of their day! In addition, you can thank your child for what they bring you sincerely and often.
In a world of distraction and instant-gratification, taking time to be “in the moment” with your child is irreplaceable. Put the technology away for a few minutes a day, take your child’s lead in a game, and bring yourself into the moment with intention! Teaching your child to be mindful and present during play is as easy as leading by example. Your child will find deeper connection with you as you are finding meaning in your time together.
Being your child’s best Valentine does not mean giving your child gifts or giving in to their every demand. Children thrive on clear expectations and rules, as they use consistent guidelines to determine how to best behave and make choices. Without these clear guidelines, your child will have to work extra hard to grow and learn. Allowing your child to guide their play, interactions and behaviors within the parameters you have set will let them truly shine in a confident manner!
Perfecting your Praise:
We can show our love for our kids by reminding them how fabulous they are, but the more specific we are the greater love they feel! Your child craves attention from you, and the best way to give it is highlighting specifics within their performance that you loved the most! Instead of saying “Good job”, you can comment that “I really liked how you brought your bowl to the sink after you were finished”, or “You worked hard on that project, I especially like the extra glitter you added!” These specific praise phrases, when offered appropriately and often, increase your child’s sense of accomplishment and foster a greater sense of self!
Calming the System:
Showing love for your child by being with them in their hardest moments can be challenging, but understanding what your child’s body needs is the first step! Some simple ways to help your child calm their body and their mind when things are escalating include letting them push/carry heavy objects, playing in various textures (play dough, rice and beans, water), bear hugs, turning down the lights, putting on some lovely smelling lotion, or putting on a quiet song. Valentine’s day will be especially positive with a relaxed and calm system.
True love leaves you feeling confident and supported, and sometimes that means letting your child find success in the little things. Before rushing to your child’s aid with stubborn socks or a collapsed block tower, take pause. Give your child a moment to problem solve, and allow them miniature failures within the safety of your love, because the love they will feel for themselves when they overcome a challenge will be magical!
For children, finding occupations (or things they want and have to do in their day) can require some assistance from you. Some children do not have enough of a role in the household management or responsibilities, and others have too little time for free play. Finding love through engagement with your child is a special way to be together. Learning to love something while working alongside your child will let your love grow! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new occupation or hobby too!
So, while the candies and treats are tempting, allow your child to feel a more significant and unending love through their favorite Valentine–YOU!
Written by: Maggie Lord, MS, OTR/L