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Today's Family Magazine

Creative ways to tell your child 'I love you'

By Kimberly Blaker

Valentine’s Day is a perfect reason to show your child just how much he or she is loved.  Try these creative ideas to show how much you care on Valentine’s Day and throughout the entire year.

A heart a day.  Add a heart-shaped candy to your child's lunch box every day of the school year.  Be sure to stock up during after-Valentine's Day clearances, so you don't run out.
Heart-shaped breakfast/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.  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 your child's 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 or be embarrassed.)

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.  Then make revisions, especially for your child.  Poems can be serious or fun, but either way, your child will love them.
A valentine's welcome.  Welcome your child home from school with a valentine banner across your front porch or entryway.   Add cute sayings that remind your child why he’s the greatest son. Create fun sentences by clipping words from magazine ads, and adding 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 your child check the mail to discover the greeting.
Say it with email.  Send your child an email with a link to a fun website or a funny animated e-greeting. With the abundance of entertaining websites 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 your child's help with 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 your child's name at the top. Then list as many positive descriptive words as you can that begin with your child's 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 your child's room.
Poetry praise.  Give your child a poetry book written especially for sons or daughters such as “To My Son with Love or To My Daughter with Love on the Important Things in Life,” written by Susan Polis Schultz.  These books offer encouragement and a new understanding of your love for and commitment to your child.  Don’t forget to add your personal inscription inside.

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 reduce stress and to let your children know they're 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. 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 the two of you would enjoy together.  Sign up for a class or set a regular schedule for the activity.  Then 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 together.
Eventful gifts.  Buy tickets to a concert, ice show, or sporting event your kids have been dying to see.  But keep it a surprise.  On the day of the event, just say you're all going out for dinner or some other  concoction. Then catch your kids by surprise when you arrive at your actual destination.
Make a date.  Plan a regular date with your child for one-on-one time. This works exceptionally well for families with more than one child.  Each parent should take a turn with each child.  You can go out for lunch or supper, play putt-putt 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.

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 his name, your sentiments, and who 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 pictures 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.
Scrapbookin’ 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.