Spread the Love

Sure a hug or a kiss will do, but why not get a little creative and try a few of these warm and wacky ideas.

01 of 16

Let him lead

Children love when they know how to do something that you don't, so let your kid be the teacher for once. Ask him to show off his own special dance moves -- then follow his steps.

02 of 16

Dress to thrill

Take out your fabric markers or paint, or create and print iron-on decals to make matching mom-and-kid T-shirts. Wear them when you go out together to dinner or to a school event. It's fun to play Mini-Me!

03 of 16

Treat her to a foot rub

Reach over and give your child's feet a nice long massage. Foot rubs and back scratches are a way to show your kid you love her, because this kind of cuddling is something you do exclusively for her.

04 of 16

Ask for help

Flatter and energize your daughter by enlisting her to help decorate Dad's birthday cake or clear the snow off the walkway. Doing something for her is nice, but it's more powerful to let your child help you in a genuine way, suggests Michael Thompson, author of Homesick and Happy. You are showing your love by slowing down to do the work with her, and that is a subtle but memorable way to tell her you value her efforts.

05 of 16

Add an animal

Surprising your kid with a pet? It's a big job for the entire family, but it does show you trust him. Caring for a dog, a cat, or even a fish will make him feel responsible.

06 of 16

Power off

Make a point of shutting down your gadgets and giving your kids your full attention for a little while. The act of closing your laptop or turning off your e-reader signals that you are ready for some silly, magical, slow-paced fun.

07 of 16

Go with the flow

For the fourth day in a row, she wants to wear the slightly frayed, almost-dirty fairy costume to nursery school. We know -- it's probably gross, especially if the underskirt drags on the floor. But every time she walks out the door as a magical fairy, you are sending a message that's packed with love and acceptance.

08 of 16

They've got mail

Send your kids handwritten letters to your home address. It's still a thrill to receive a love note the old-fashioned way.

09 of 16

How to Make Sweet Kisses

Create homemade tags for Hershey Kisses then package them in Valentine's Day goody bags.

10 of 16

Be silly

Throw on a fake mustache and act like you don't understand why your son is laughing. Let
your inner goofball take over for a while. These moments become a form of love insurance that sustains a day filled with requests to brush his teeth or pick up his toys.

11 of 16

Say "wow"

The next time your child is upset, let him vent, wait a few beats and then say, "Wow." "When you say it, you enter open-minded listener mode, and what your child hears is: 'I know this is big to you. Keep going,' " says Parents advisor Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. You're interested in his situation but you're not just offering a fix. You're showing respect for his feelings instead.

12 of 16

Watch TV with them

Yes, you heard correctly. Your kid senses that your time is fragmented and scarce. Making a detour from your to-do list to watch a 22-minute episode of Wonder Pets! is pure recreation, and your child will be thrilled that you want to be with her for the whole show.

13 of 16

Show it off

Designate a special frame on a prominent wall where you can display artwork. Each month, alternate your kids' pictures.

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Crack the code

Get together and create a secret handshake, a funny word, or a made-up symbol that only you, your partner, and your kids know.

15 of 16

Change for good

Go on a coin hunt all around the house: under sofa cushions and furniture, or inside Dad's jacket pockets. Then take the kids on a surprise field trip to a video arcade, an ice-cream shop, or a dollar store to spend their findings.

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Get Messy

Fill water balloons so she and her friends can watch them splatter on the driveway. Or, let her experiment with papier-m?ch? even if it means getting sticky. Your child will appreciate that she is worth the mess.

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