Giving and receiving love makes family life more joyful and satisfying. It helps families handle stressful, challenging times by strengthening communication and connections. During stressful times small, everyday acts of love can make children and family members feel valued and cared for.
The pandemic has disrupted my family’s life. We’ve lost some close friends and family members to COVID, and the constant fear about getting sick and the confusion (and debates) over changing guidelines is wearing me down. I know I’m not as present and available for my kids (3, 7, 10) as I want to be. I’d like to do something special for Valentine’s Day that reminds my kids how much they’re loved, but I don’t have a lot of time, money, or energy to do something big. Can you share any ideas with me?
That’s a good question, and you’re not alone. Everyday acts of love are easy to do, and yet can be so easy to forget to do. Here are some ideas for simple ways to show your kids you love them on Valentine’s Day—and every day of the year:
Send mini “love letters.” Adults and children often forget to say, “I love you,” or they say these words out of habit without genuine feeling. Write a note, draw a picture, or send a text to each child with a short message that shows you care. Something as simple as, “I love you,” or “Your laugh makes me smile,” or a heart emoji can go a long way.
Express appreciation for each other. Model how to do this, then have everyone take turns doing the same with you and each other. Describe a quality that makes each child special, such as their creativity, humor, or compassion. Or acknowledge something they’ve done to be kind and helpful, like doing a chore with a cheerful attitude or helping a friend. Remember to be specific and sincere. Over time, expressing appreciation will become a habit.
Eat a meal together. Research shows that having regular family meals has tremendous benefits for children and youth, including better academic performance, higher self-esteem and lower risk of substance abuse and depression. Family meals don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be special. Eating together provides an important opportunity to talk with kids about their interests and what’s going on in their lives. Start a conversation about a topic they’re interested in—their friends, music, favorite toys, or the latest TikTok trend. Ask questions, listen to what they say, and encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions. This teaches valuable communication and social skills that will help your children in future relationships.
Give and receive love in each person’s “love language.” Dr. Gary Chapman says that everyone expresses and experiences love in the same five ways – physical touch, receiving gifts, words of affirmation (praise, positive feedback), acts of service, and quality time – but each person has a primary love language that is most meaningful to them. Think about which love language mean the most to each child and express your love for them in that way. This shows each child that you really see and understand them, and it also sets a good example for them about how to show others they care.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Simple, everyday acts of love are often the most meaningful. Giving and receiving love makes family life more joyful and satisfying, and it helps families handle stressful, challenging times by strengthening communication and connections.
CPI's monthly parenting article provides tips for families raising children, based on the world-renowned Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, available in Sonoma County at CPI. If you have a question or idea for a future column, please email email@example.com.
This article is created by Nicole Young, the mother of two children, ages 17 and 21, who also manages Santa Cruz County's Triple P - Positive Parenting Program. Scientifically proven, Triple P is available locally through the Child Parent Institute. Our classes are listed at calparents.org/classes.