We must communicate to our children every day that they are loved, says Sandra Magsamen, an expert on living your life with heart. But, sometimes words alone are not enough to express what we most want to say. Here are some ways Sandra says you can make lasting bonds with your children that will last a lifetime.
1. THE BASICS
•Hug! Never stop hugging your child. A hug connects physically and emotionally like nothing else.
•Read lots of books to your children. Put time aside each day to look at, read and share stories. You can read the same ones over and over again.
2. DANCE, sway and move as you hold your child and provide the comfort and connection that gentle rocking and movement brings. Get down on the floor and play, make puzzles, finger paint, roll around and laugh together. And tell them you love them, that they are special, that they are unique and that they are a gift
3. SING OUT LOUD
Find your song and sing it. Don't worry if you don't have the pipes of Aretha, just sing and I promise your child will love it. Find "your song," the song you love to sing to your child. It will soothe them "and you"on those days where everything seems to be going wrong.
4. WRITE YOUR CHILD A LETTER soon after they are born. (Or start it now!) Fill it with your thoughts, hopes, dreams and the experience of bringing a new life into the world. Place your note in an envelope and inscribe, "On the day you were born" on it, and tuck it in a journaling-type book.
5. EACH YEAR on your child's birthday write
another letter to him/her--fill it with the memories, milestones, dreams, events, ideas and the life that you and your family have created throughout the year. When your child grows up and has a place of his or her own, present the book and continue to send the letters on your child's birthday. You will have written a book and told the story of two very special people: you and your child.
6. IN SOAP OR LIPSTICK, write, "You're the best!" or "Have a great day!" on the bathroom mirror where your child will see it when brushing his or her teeth. And at breakfast, try spelling out, "I love you" with individual letters from alphabet cereal. Of course, you will have to pick through the box to find eight letters, but the message will then have your personal touch. Surprise your son with his favorite cookies in his lunch box-the sugary ones that he regularly begs for in the grocery aisle, but rarely receives.
Or reach for a banana, like my friend did to keep connected to her boys. "During elementary school, I'd pack their lunches every day and I'd always put a banana in each bag. One day I started writing little notes-jokes and riddles on the banana peel with a permanent pen. The boys loved it and looked forward to their lunchtime surprise. I loved it, too, knowing that as I was thinking about them at lunchtime, they would be thinking of me. Of course, by middle school, they asked me to stop sending notes on their bananas. They were 'too old.' The boys really did get a kick out of it!"
If bananas aren't your thing, simply write a note, a riddle or cut a comic that your child loves from the newspaper. Your child will enjoy getting that extra-special something from you and all his or her classmates will be waiting each day to see what's next.
7. OTHER ARTFUL WAYS TO STAY CONNECTED
• Make Friday nights game night-relax together with pizza, some healthy snacks and competition. Invite your children's best friends to join you.
• Make a family history book using favorite words, photos and souvenirs.
• I love a good game of black out: Turn off every light in the house (including night-lights and VCR lights) and play hide-and-seek. Prepare to have a blast tripping all over each other and even getting spooked a time or two.
• Plant a garden with butterfly bushes and enjoy the visits of hundreds of butterflies.
• Create a revolving art gallery of your kid's work in your home. Show them you think their art is a masterpiece. String wire between two hooks and hang the art with clothespins
• Turn off the TV and put on your own plays and musicals, and share stories.
• Turn on the soothing sounds of jazz and watch your family relax. Make a CD of your family's favorite tunes to be played on long car rides or rainy Sunday afternoons.
• Create new everyday rituals: warm vanilla milk, a story or a kiss on the forehead before bedtime-special touches that will help your child drift off to a peaceful sleep.
• Plant a garden together, and then watch as the seeds grow.
• Make a video of your grandparents. Interview them about their lives and ask the funny questions that will brighten their faces and make them laugh. This project will become a cherished family heirloom. To read the other ideas visit Oprah.com
Ways to Stay Connected with Older Kids...
• Visit a make-your-own-pottery place and create a plate for each person in your family, or several pieces to celebrate a special event.
• Bake together. Make ice cream. Create an Italian feast of fresh pasta, bread and tiramisu, with a famous aria playing in the background.
• Bring armloads of comforters, pillows and blankets in front of the largest TV in the house and have movie night, all cozy together.
• Pick your own strawberries and make jam. Enjoy life. It's delicious.
• Build a campfire in the backyard (in a grill or fire pit), and roast hot dogs on sticks and make s'mores with chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers. Sit around, tell stories and enjoy the night air and the flames as they warm your fingers and toes.
• Go miniature golfing together. Set up teams and prepare to laugh as children and adults alike compete for the lowest score. Give prizes to the winners, both old and young.
• Get tickets for your local professional, minor league or college baseball game. Spend an afternoon in the sun eating chocolate malts, peanuts and singing during the seventh-inning stretch. (If you get there early, you may be able to catch fly balls from batting practice.) Consider tailgating, and create and serve a feast from the trunk of your car.
• Go ice skating or to a roller rink and dance to the music booming over the loudspeakers.
• Check out the local public gardens in your area, perhaps one that serves Chinese tea or has acres of roses.
• Journey down to your local theater and support your neighborhood thespians as they perform in A Midsummer Night's Dream or Annie Get Your Gun.
• Has the fair come to town? Carnivals and fairgrounds are a good way to change your routine and celebrate your country roots.
• Bust out all of the board games you can find. Enjoy some healthy competition as you play. Fill bowls with popcorn, chips, nuts and chocolates for the competitors.
• Sing at home in Karaoke style. Crank up the tunes and laugh as everyone takes a turn singing their favorite song.
MORE THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS!
Things to do BEFORE You're TEN!!!
1. Roll on your side down a grassy bank
2. Make a mud pie
3. Make your own play dough mixture
4. Read under the bed-covers with a flashlight
5. Make home-made potpourri
6. Grow flowers or herbs on a windowsill
7. Make some bird feeders
8. Build a sandcastle
9. Climb a tree
10. Make a tent in the living room
11. Make a painting using your hands and feet
12. Organize your own teddy bears' picnic
13. Have your face painted
14. Play with a friend in the sand
15. Make some bread
16. Make snow angels
17. Create a clay sculpture
18. Take part in a scavenger hunt
19. Camp out in the yard
20. Bake a cake
21. Feed a farm animal
22. Pick some strawberries and apples
23. Recognize five different bird species
24. Find some worms
25. Ride a bike through a muddy puddle
26. Make and fly a kite
27. Plant a tree
28. Build a nest out of grass and twigs
29. Find five different leaves in the park
30. Grow vegetables
31. Make breakfast in bed for your parents