Use plenty of positive and encouraging words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm or mockery and get rid of put-downs from the words you use as a parent. Children often don’t understand your purpose, and if they do, these messages can create negative-ways of talking and connecting with each other.
Make an extra effort to set a good example about how to connect and talk with other people at home and in public. Use words like "I'm sorry," "please," and "thank you." Children learn a lot from observing and imitating their parent’s behavior.
Respond promptly and lovingly to your child's physical and emotional needs. Be available to
listen to your child when he or she wants to talk with you even if it’s not the best time for you. Ask your child "How was your day?" and listen to the answer.
When your child is
angry, grouchy, or in a bad mood, give him a quick hug, cuddle, pat, secret nod or other sign of affection he responds to and then consider talking with him about it when he’s feeling better.
Use non-violent forms of
discipline. Parents should start using both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help establish ways to encourage strengths and address concerns during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rules to not be followed.
Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys on a regular basis. Encourage your child to be active by going on walks, bicycle riding, or playing ball with him or her. Consider sending a Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen. Think about making Valentine’s Day cards together with your preschool or younger school age child.
Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can look forward to having ways to enjoy spending time together. Put a different family member's name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening. Turn off cellphones and/or tablets during these family times.
Consider owning a pet, if possible. Having a pet can help make some children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by increasing their physical activity, enhancing their overall feelings, and offering another way to connect with someone they care about.
One of the best ways to have your child learn more about good food choices is to encourage him to
cook with you. Let him get involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to
shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving. It is wonderful when
families eat together as much as possible. Good food, good conversations. These are excellent times to model healthy food choices.
As your child grows up, she'll spend most of her time improving upon a variety of skills and abilities that she gains in all areas of her life. You should help her as much as possible by encouraging her and providing the tools and teaching she needs. Start reading to your child beginning at six months.
Avoid TV in the first two years, monitor and watch TV with your older children and use TV time as one topic for conversation time with your children.
Limit computer and video games.
Your child's health depends a lot on the care and support you offer during his early years. By taking your child to the doctor regularly for
well child or preventive health care visits, teaching him how to be safe from injuries, providing a healthy and nutritious diet, and encouraging good amounts of
sleep, physical activity, and exercise throughout childhood, you help protect and strengthen his mind and body. Model these behaviors for your child(ren) on a daily basis.
Help your child foster positive relationships with
siblings and members of the community. Consider inviting friends or neighbors to spend time drinking tea, having a meal, playing a game, or helping others in need. Encourage your child to play sports or be involved in activities that show team work.
One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop
self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and help to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and celebrating lessons learned from his mistakes and successes are all part of this process.
Don't forget to say,
"I love you" to children of all ages!