Creative Ways to Tell Your Child ‘I Love You’

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Valentine’s Day is just one opportunity to show your child just how much she is loved. Use these creative ideas to show how much you care on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Edible Ideas

A heart a day . . .
Add a shaped candy to your child’s lunch box every day of the school year. Be sure to stock up during after-Valentine’s Day sales so you don’t run out.
Heart-shaped lunch
Use a large, heart shaped cookie cutter to make heart-shaped sandwiches, toast and other treats. Your kids will love the shape and that you’ve eliminated the crust.

A cupful of love
Give your child a “World’s Greatest Son/Daughter” or “I Love You” cup, and then use it whenever you serve hot cocoa or graham crackers and milk.

Do lunch
Pick up your child from school for a surprise lunch date. Hit her favorite fast-food joint, go on a picnic or have lunch together in the school cafeteria. (If you choose the latter, make sure your child won’t mind to avoid social embarrassment.)

The Written Word

A poet and didn’t know-it
You don’t have to be a poet to write a poem for your child. If poetry isn’t your thing, look up simple children’s rhymes and make revisions especially for your child. Poems can be serious or fun, but either way, your child will love it.

A Valentine welcome
Welcome your child home from school with a Valentine banner across your front porch or entryway. Add cute sayings that remind him why he’s the greatest son; create fun sentences by clipping words from magazine ads; and add some Valentine doodles.

Snail mail surprise
Kids love to get mail, so why not send your child a card, letter or postcard. Don’t forget to let him check the mail to discover the greeting himself.

Say it with e-mail
Send your child an e-mail with a link to a fun Web site or a funny animated e-greeting. With the abundance of entertaining Web sites and free e-greetings, you can send your child something new every day of the year.

Scrabble greetings
Wish your child a “Happy Valentine’s Day,” congratulate him on a great report card or show how much you appreciate his help by creating a Scrabble message. For younger readers, spell out a simple phrase leaving a space between words. For older kids, make them figure out your greeting. Intersect the words as you would in playing Scrabble and see if they can solve the message.

C is for . . .
Make a poster portraying your child’s characteristics. Put her name at the top, and then list as many positive descriptive words as you can that begin with her initial. Use a thesaurus to find oodles of words. (Example: Cassandra, cute, caring, creative, crafty, curious.) When you finish, laminate or frame it, and hang it in her room.

Poetry praise
Give your child a poetry book written especially for sons or daughters. “To My Son with Love” or “To My Daughter with Love on the Important Things in Life,” written by Susan Polis Schultz, offer encouragement and a new understanding of your love and commitment. Don’t forget to add your inscription inside.

Do It Together

Love is silly
One thing kids love and do best is act silly, so loosen up and join in the fun. If being silly isn’t your style, take a few lessons from your child, and practice up. Letting loose is a great way to de-stress and to let your child know he’s fun to be around.

A gift of time
For today’s busy parents, finding time to read to or play with your child isn’t always easy. Fortunately, quality, rather than quantity, is what matters most. Show your child you care by setting aside a few minutes each day to talk, read or play together, and you’ll both reap the rewards.

A class connection
As kids grow, together-time becomes increasingly rare. Decide with your adolescent on an activity or hobby that the two of you would enjoy together. Sign up for a class or set a regular schedule for the activity, and mark it on your calendar. Treat it as you would any other commitment, not letting daily life interfere.

A trip down memory lane
Flip through photo albums or watch family videos together, and reminisce about favorite holidays, vacations and family times you’ve had.

Eventful gifts
Buy tickets to a concert, ice show or sporting event your kids have been dying to see. On the day of the event, just say you’re all going out for dinner or some other concoction, and then catch your kids by surprise when you arrive at your true destination.

Make a date
Plan a regular date with your child for one-on-one time. This works especially well for families with more than one child. Each parent should take a turn with each child, and go out for lunch or supper, play miniature golf, take in a movie, go roller-skating or spend an afternoon at the park. Set a regular schedule so your child can look forward to your dates together.

Gifts from the Heart

Flowers for her
Cut fresh flowers for your daughter to brighten her room and her day.

Race cars for him
Clip sports cars from magazines for your son and post them on a bulletin board in his room.

Engrave your thoughts
Have a necklace or bracelet engraved for your child. Be sure to include her name, your sentiments and whom it’s from.

Van Gogh in the making
Sift through your child’s art collection and select a piece to display. Then matte, frame and hang it in a room, other than your child’s, for everyone to see.

Photos say a thousand words
Choose several photos of your child from infancy through the present, then use paper-edgers, and trim them into different sizes and shapes. Overlap and tape them to the backing of a frame using double-sided tape, then add matting and frame the collage.

It’s in the wrapping
Don’t wait for a special occasion to give your child a gift. Kids love presents, so the next time you pick up something for your child, wrap it as a surprise. Don’t forget the ribbon (so it takes longer to unwrap), and include a small gift card that says how much you appreciate her.

Scrapbooking fun
Put together a memory scrapbook of your child. Use photos, locks of hair, vacation postcards and ticket stubs. Dedicate each page to a special holiday, event or theme. Include dates and any details you remember, along with cute sayings and stickers to fit the themes.

Kimberly Blaker of Michigan is an author and mother of two.