Ask 20 kids what love is and you’ll probably get 20 very different answers. But ask them what Valentine’s Day means and it’s the same — candy hearts, boxes of chocolate, and sending cards to just about every kid in school.
More than cards and candies, Valentine’s Day can also mean new emotions and weird feelings for kids. Here are some ways to help them manage these situations.
Many teachers ask their students to send valentines to everyone in the class so no one is left out. At home, reinforce that sending cards to all classmates is a good way to make sure that everyone has a happy Valentine’s Day.
Some kids might be afraid that sending valentines in bulk means that they’re saying that they’re in love with all 30 kids in the class. If your child feels uneasy about sending valentines for this reason or because she doesn’t want to send a card to someone she doesn’t get along with, try to find or make cards with jokes or friendly messages (like a simple “Happy Valentine’s Day” rather than “Will you be mine?”).
Your little Romeo isn’t interested in sending valentines to the Juliets in his class? Reassure him that it’s fine to let girls know that he likes them as friends and help him pick out or make suitable cards to get that message across.
Dealing with Valentine’s Day Emotions
If your child’s worried that someone might be left out, praise him for being so considerate and help him prepare cards for everyone in the class.
Some store-bought cards have messages that might not be appropriate for the young at heart. If your child gets a card that hints at a love interest, it’s probably best to downplay your reaction. Teasing about or drawing attention to such cards will only make kids feel uneasy or embarrassed.
Your child came home with a light valentine bag and a heavy heart? This is a good time to talk about quality versus quantity: It’s not the number of valentines received that’s important but their quality. Those cards are from true buddies, and that’s what counts.
You can also consider starting a Valentine’s Day family tradition. Presenting your child with a card, flower or other small gift can help her feel appreciated and loved, and she’ll always have something special to look forward to.
Bullies are bullies, on Feb. 14 or any other day of the year. Explain to your kids that getting a nasty valentine doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them. Some kids just want to see if they can make other kids sad or angry. Tell your kids to just throw it away without giving the sender what he or she wanted — a reaction.
© 2012. Article adapted from The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®. Used under license.