Press-Republican

February 16, 2013

Gifts to last beyond Valentine's Day

By DR. LEWIS FIRST, First With Kids
Press-Republican

---- — With Valentine’s Day having recently passed, I thought this week I’d share some special gifts you can give your children that will last longer than any traditional greeting card. 

So, let me get to the heart of the matter and provide some ways to tell your children you love them.

First, use plenty of positive words with your child every day to build their self-esteem and self-confidence. Using phrases like “Good job” or “You are being so nice” are great ways to say “I love you.”

Also, give your child a hug or pat on the back if he or she is in a bad mood. If you have an older child, have a secret sign or gesture of affection to show your love. This will have a calming effect and will encourage your child to talk with you about what’s bothering them.

Create what I call “special time” with each of your children every week. Do something with your child that is different from your daily routine and plays to their particular strengths. For example, if they like to cook, let them make cookies with you. If they like to draw, sit down and work on an art project together. Set aside time for family game nights, and let your child choose the game to play. Doing so allows you to show each child how unique they are and that you love them for their uniqueness.

Believe it or not, a great valentine to your child is to make sure they stay healthy by keeping their checkups and immunizations up-to-date. As well, you should ensure they exercise regularly and that your home is safe from accidents.

Finally, don’t forget to simply say “I love you” to your child on a daily basis. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t say that phrase enough.

Hopefully, these tips will do far more than Cupid’s arrows can when it comes to hitting the bull’s-eye and truly showing your children how much you love them. In return, you will see how much they love you so that Valentine’s Day is not just celebrated on Feb. 14 but every day of the year.

Dr. Lewis First is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.