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Put a little love in your heart: Activities to show your toddler love

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Today we are continuing our series of articles featuring the experts at ESCAPE Family Resource Center about showing our children love. The Houston Family Examiner recently had the opportunity to discuss family relationships and the importance of parents showing children love with ESCAPE Family Resource Center Chief Programs Officer Nicole Huff. Don't just wait for Valentine's Day to put a whole lot of love in your child's heart. Today's talk is about toddlers, ages 12-24 months.

ESCAPE's Chief Programs Officer Nicole Huff shares with me that "toddlers are constantly developing and reacting to the world around them. Everything is new, and they love playing games and asking questions. Parents are the primary teachers for toddlers and below are some ideas to encourage their healthy development."

1) Spend time holding your child.
2) Talk and sing to your child.
3) Kiss and caress your child.
4) Gently massage your child’s body. (See our article on Infants for where to find Infant Massage classes)
5) Say, “I Love You” to your child.

Or sing it. Children enjoy the sound of music and the Barney song is available online with lyrics.
6) Cuddle up with a blanket together and read a book.

Just because they are older doesn't mean you have to get rid of the rocking chair. Just find a new use for it like a good book and a cuddle.

7) Compliment your child for his/her behavior or completing a task.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Celebrate your child's accomplishments and be excited with them when they do well.

8) Hug your child for no special reason.
9) Express to your children what you love about them.

10) Respect their feelings and comfort them.

It's hard when a parent is tired at night to be woken up to "I'm scared" but comforting your child after a nightmare and listening to what they have to say can go a long way.

11) Remove any distractions (cell phone, laundry, etc.) and spend some time on the floor playing with your child.

Don't just put it in your pocket, turn it off and that includes your data plan or wi-fi. Far too often those beep beeps of internet comments and text take away from where a parent should really be looking, into the big, bright eyes of your child.

Subscribe to the Houston Family Examiner as we continue talking to ESCAPE to learn more ways to connect with our children and put a lot of love in their heart. Our next installment in this series will include ways to work with your toddler and preschooler.

About ESCAPE: Founded in 1983 by the Houston-area chapters of The National Exchange Club, ESCAPE Family Resource Center is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization that began as part of a national project dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect in local communities across the country. It relies on private support to prevent and combat emotional, physical and sexual violence towards children. According toESCAPE CEO Lidya K. Osadchey, in fiscal year 2013, the organization collaborated with 93 organizations to provide 363 deliveries of child abuse prevention programs and parenting classes in 81 locations in Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Chambers and Liberty counties in English and Spanish. In the last 13 years, ESCAPEhas increased its program delivery from 116 to 375 and increased the number of parents and children who benefit from these programs from 2,316 to 5,515.

ESCAPE is committed, both locally and globally, to providing child abuse and neglect prevention programs, court-ordered and CPS-approved parenting classes, parenting support groups, parenting tips and professional training tools that anyone can use to develop positive parenting and co-parenting, appropriate discipline, anger management and conflict resolution skills.

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