"Mommy, I love you this much," your preschooler whispers as she throws her arms as wide as she can reach. She is secure because she knows she's loved. You find many different ways to communicate that to her each day, and you know she gets the message because she makes sure you know that she loves you too.
1. Who Are We?
Family encompasses more than your preschooler's immediate family, and might include people who love him but don't see him often. You can help him create a family photo album or pictorial family tree he can look at and identify the people he loves and those who love him. You might schedule regular phone or Internet conferencing with family members so everyone stays in touch and expresses love. This works especially well when your child can see those family members. Alternatively, ask him, "Would you like to make a picture or craft we can send to grandma and grandpa?" and send the items by mail or post them on your social media pages for family to enjoy.
2. How Do I Love You?
Talk with your child about ways she knows you love her. She might say, "Because you feed me" or "Because you give me lots of hugs and kisses." Help her identify different ways she can express love to family members that she wouldn't share with friends or strangers so she knows what behaviors are appropriate. For example, you tell her, "It's okay to go places with grandma and grandpa and take food or presents from them, but we don't want you to do that people we haven't said can do those things. We want you to stay safe, so we only trust you with people we know love you very much."
Role-play ways to be loving with your little one. You might let him be the daddy and you be the child so he can demonstrate loving touches and words. Use puppets, pets or dolls that he can cuddle and care for in a loving manner. You could say, "You love Spot very much, just like we love you very much. Spot is a part of our family too. You have to feed and take care of him just like I take care of you." If he is having trouble behaving in a loving manner, you can model it for him and say, "This is the way we treat family so everyone feels loved."
4. Story Time
Read stories to your child about family love, such as "I Loved You Before You Were Born" by Anne Bowen and Greg Shed, "I'll Always Love You" by Paeony Lewis, or "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw. Invite your child to tell you stories about times when he felt especially loved or special times with family members. You might watch a story about animal babies so your child can see how animal parents also show love.
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