Valentine’s Day can help strengthen family bonds

McClatchy News Service

Valentine’s Day is often regarded as just being for those that are newly coupled but it can be a great excuse to celebrate with all your loved ones. Instead of it being a day of miscommunicated words or dinners resulting in unmet expectation, says behavioral researcher Priscilla Dunstan, Valentine’s Day can be a special day that allows the whole family to show they love and appreciation those special people in our lives. By understanding each other’s dominant sense, Dunstan says, you can find the perfect way to communicate your feelings in a thoughtful and successful way thereby strengthening the bond you have together.

▪  Auditory partners love music. Give them tickets to their favorite band or fill their iPod with their favorite music and listen, listen, listen. Go to dinner in a place where you can talk easily, comment on previous conversations and things they have said before, and show them that you do listen and care about what they have to say. Auditory children will want to talk you through their Valentine’s Day card or present. As with auditory adults, the best present you can give auditory children is their knowing that you remembered and heard what they had to say. Ask their advice, recall other conversations, and let them pick the background music at dinner then let them sing along! Karaoke!

▪  Visual partners love beautifully designed presents or cards. Be sure to make an effort to dress nicely in something they would like or go out to dinner in a beautifully decorated restaurant, an art gallery or visit a beautiful view. Comment in detail on how nice their outfit is, too. Visual children will love beautifully colored little presents. They probably will make you a hand-drawn card so really talk about the use of color and other details. Make a special effort with setting the dinner table, and have the whole family dress nicely or go somewhere beautiful.

▪  Tactile partners like doing and fixing things – being active. So planning a hike or picnic, or buying them something for their bicycle or yoga class and then following up with lots of physical affection will make them very happy. The tactile child will love going out and doing something together. Make up new traditions like a Valentine’s Day soccer match, or make a Valentine’s Day living room fort. Let your child help you as you make dinner and show them endless amounts of hugs and cuddles.

▪  Taste-smell partners are sensitive and sentimental so be sure they are aware how much you like their gift. Or go out to the place where you first met, wearing the same outfit you wore or something similar. A handmade gift or something else very personal will go over will. Taste-smell children will want Valentine’s Day to be a love fest. They will want to wish everyone they care about a lovely day. They will put a lot of feeling into their card, including the one made for their teddy bear. They will want to help with everything that day since how everyone else is feeling is reflected in their sense of self.

Priscilla Dunstan is a behavioral researcher and creator of the Dunstan Baby Language and author of “Child Sense” and “Calm the Crying.” Learn more about Dunstan at