The Valentine Gift Every Child Wants

By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman

Valentine's Day Is fast approaching. Love in the air. It's time to find that perfect gift that will express the way you feel about your loved ones.

What about your children? What Valentine's gift will you present to them this year? Will you demonstrate your love with the traditional box of their favorite candy or a colorful red rose? Or will you purchase a new video game? Perhaps a card with a hand written note will be the way you'll express your affection to them this year.

Certainly love can be expressed with candy, flowers, notes or gifts. But is that what your child really wants or needs? Are those the things you want your child to associate with love? How about taking a different tact this year? This Valentine's Day, why not spell love the same way your child does: T-I-M-E.

Yes, we're suggesting you give your child the gift of time, your time. Make a commitment this Valentine's Day to be the best parent you can be by being present in your child's life on a regular basis. Your presence or lack of presence is constantly sending your children messages about their importance and about your love.

To make your love more than a consumable box of candy or a card that sits on the shelf, be active and interactive on a daily basis with your children. Shut down the computer, turn off the x-box, and walk away from the TV. Invest time with your children. Create the time to play catch, shoot baskets, throw water balloons, help with homework, attend the dance recital, play checkers, read bedtime stories, or help coach the soccer team.

Listed below are several ways to be creative and adventuresome in the ways you invest time with your children. These suggestions are intended to help you send the message "I love you" to your children in different and memorable ways this Valentine's Day.

  1. Jumbo board game. Remake your child's favorite board game in jumbo size and play it together. Candy Land or Shoots and Ladders are great fun around the house. Making it together and setting it up is half the pleasure.
  2. Dress-up day. Dress-up like pirates and go on a treasure hunt, or dress-up like Barbie and have a fashion show.
  3. Face painting. Paint each others' faces with your favorite cartoon characters. Take pictures and display them on the refrigerator.
  4. Giant puzzle. With large boxes from a local appliance store together make a giant puzzle to construct in the backyard or basement.
  5. Indoor camping. Move furniture and set up camp. Pitch a tent. Make a fake camp fire out of paper. Eat hotdogs and s'mores. Hold a family slumber party as you do outdoor activities only, in the living room.
  6. Clean mud. Rip toilet paper into small strips. Grate ivory soap. Mix together with water and you have clean mud. Play with it on the kitchen floor, or in a tub on the kitchen table. Great for building, designing and frolicking will occur.
  7. Shaving cream the table. Clear the kitchen table and spray it with shaving cream. You and your children will have a blast making shapes, writing letters and putting shaving cream on their face. Have a mirror handy, its fun to see yourself with a beard. Clean up is easy too, it all rinses away with water.
  8. Balsa wood creation. Make your own boat or doll or car out of a chunk of balsa wood. With a 1 x 2 x 4 piece of balsa wood, rough and smooth sand paper, some paint, and cloth you can make almost anything. No cutting is required and the local craft or hobby store will have everything you need.
  9. Slide show. Turn the kids loose with the digital camera with the direction of taking pictures of the family members over a set period of time. Together, create a power point slide show complete with silly sound effects.
  10. Play restaurant. Help your children make a menu with appetizers, entrée choices, deserts and prices. Create a fancy restaurant setting and prepare for fine dining where your children play the role of waiter/waitress, and chef.

Use any of these suggestions to help you turn Valentine's Day into a day your children will cherish and remember. Communicate your love, affection, and high regard to them in a language they understand. Tell your children that you love them with time. And do it throughout the year, time after time.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They also publish a free email newsletter for parents and another for educators. Subscribe to them when you visit, www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com. Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. For more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today.

Copyright © Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.