5 Simple Ways to Show the Love to Your Little Ones on Valentine’s Day

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Counting down from five, check out these strategies for launching this “love-ly” month with your little one.

5. Make everyday routines special.

When my kids were toddlers, they loved it when I ran the bath, switched on a few flashlights (far from their little hands) and turned off the overhead light. We called it a “Spooky Bath.” Even now, when I don’t want to do dishes, we have a “picnic”—and sit on a blanket in the living room eating off paper plates. These little moments, even though they happen only once in a while, have become some of their favorite memories.

4. Notice what makes your child special—and tell them.

“I love how you found that tiny little bug on the sidewalk. I would have missed it if you didn’t show me.” Or: “I noticed how you really stuck with that puzzle. You are really persistent—I appreciate that about you.”

3. Show yourself some love!

I know this list is supposed to be all about the kids, but hear me out: I’ve learned that I need to work hard to silence the voice in my head that’s constantly telling me how I messed up dealing with the last tantrum or that I’m  not a great mom or that I fail at parenting because I lack the patience of Mary Poppins.

I’m learning to treat myself like I’d treat a friend: everyone messes up. Take a deep breath and try again. That child loves you and you love her. So you had a misstep. It’s the next step that matters. Yes, re-programming yourself is hard. But a healthier parent is a more peaceful parent. And more peace means you have more head space for enjoying life with your little one.

2. Give your child a sense of family connection.

Share pictures and tell stories about you as a child—stories about growing up, your siblings and your childhood adventures (my kids’ favorite story is about when I fell and broke my arm in 5th grade and rode in an ambulance). Not close to your family? Share stories of friends and mentors. Help your child see that they are part of something bigger.

1. Focus on the long game.

It’s easy to get caught up in daily struggles, stresses and worries. But focusing on the long game means remembering that there is only one thing your child really needs: You. This doesn’t mean you can’t set a limit. This doesn’t mean you need to give your child a million toys and a pony. But it does mean that you are there when you’re with them, you notice and respond to their cues, you comfort when comforting’s needed and you listen (even to long recaps of Paw Patrol).

These moments are the long game, because they help you build a relationship with your child that will stay strong way past the baby and toddler years.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This post originally appeared on ZERO TO THREE.

As a mom, I know parenting has joys and challenges. As a child development expert, I take the research and science on the first three years and make it work for real parents. That’s the magic at ZERO TO THREE, where our focus is giving young children a strong start. 

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