Strengthen Your Family: 14 Ways to Show Love for Your Child

The following tips are provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The focus of AAP is children, but these tips would apply to family members of any age.

  • Use plenty of positive words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm with your child. Children often don’t understand sarcasm, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.
  • Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs and banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary.
  • Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”
  • When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give her a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection she favors and talk with her about her feelings.
  • Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.
  • Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys.
  • Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.
  • Owning a pet can make children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by stimulating physical activity, enhancing their overall attitude, and offering constant companionship. 
  • One of the best ways to familiarize your child with good food choices is to encourage her to cook with you. Let her get involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving.
  • As your child grows up, she’ll spend most of her time developing and refining a variety of skills and abilities in all areas of her life. You should help her as much as possible by encouraging her and providing the equipment and instruction she needs.
  • Your child’s health depends significantly on the care and guidance you offer during her early years. By taking your child to the doctor regularly for consultations, keeping her safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging exercise throughout childhood, you help protect and strengthen her body.
  • Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.
  • One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover her strengths. She needs you to believe in her as she learns to believe in herself. Loving her, spending time with her, listening to her and praising her accomplishments are all part of this process.
  • Don’t forget to say, “I love you” to children of all ages!


Additional information is available from your local office of Penn State Cooperative Extension. In Clearfield, the office is located in the Multi-Service Center, or by calling 765-7878. In Brookville, the office is located at 180 Main St., or by calling 849-7361. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.

(Reference:  American Academy of Pediatrics, 2/07)

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