Shelly Barnes2


Children’s relationships shape the way they see the world and affect all areas of their development.

Through relationships with parents, other family members and caregivers, children learn about their world.  That’s because relationships let children express themselves — a cry, a laugh, a question — and get something back — a cuddle, a smile, an answer. What children get back gives them important information about what the world is like and how to act in the world — how to think, understand, communicate, behave, show emotions and develop social skills.

When you respond, you’re also making your child feel safe and secure, and building a strong relationship between the two of you.

February is known to be the month of love with Valentine’s Day falling in the middle of the month. Families can fill the month of February with love with activities that express genuine love for one another.

Here are some ideas that you can implement this month with your family to share love and appreciation for each other.

  • · Have a craft night and make Valentines to give to all your family members. Use construction paper, stickers and markers, and work with your family to create Valentines for each other. Help kids write messages to all family members. Make them silly or meaningful. Save them and present them to each other on Valentine’s Day.
  • · Share a special story about a time when your spouse — or a special friend — showed love. My children love to hear about the day they were born because the story is filled with love and how happy they made me as a mama. You could also share how much you appreciate their teacher or another loved one. My husband points out the things he appreciates about the ways I care for our family. As the kids hear us share, they often want to join in and share special stories too.
  • · Take your kids on a date at home. Encourage everyone to get dressed up, set the table, and give each child a special task. Go around the table sharing what you love about each person. After dinner, spend time with your children doing things they love. Some children may enjoy board games or watching a movie.
  • · Create a “Things I Love About Our Family” Jar. Keep slips of paper and a pencil beside the jar. Help the younger kids write down things they love about their family, too. Choose a day each week to read through the new notes in the jar.

Shelly Barnes is the family and consumer sciences Extension agent with UT-TSU Extension in Wilson County. Contact her at or (615) 444-9594, ext. 105.

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