For children, Valentine’s Day will mean different things at different ages. Older children, who probably exchange cards and gifts only with a select few, will likely have begun to find that it can often be thrilling, but sometimes disappointing. For the younger ones, who may be exchanging valentines with their entire class, the focus is likely which cards are favorites (i.e. the ones with candy). As with many things, if you teach your children young, they are better prepared for what awaits them. Here are four things to keep in mind as Valentine’s Day approaches.
Back to the Roots
When it comes to explaining holidays to your children, it can be constructive to give an historical context, but in this case it might be best to skip it. According to History.com, there are disparate origin stories, including one in which a Mr. Valentine, who was jailed for performing forbidden marriages, sent the first valentine from jail—“from your Valentine.” Other stories include three martyred Saint Valentines and a pagan fertility ritual, so it’s unclear. Perhaps better to keep it simple and present it as a day of love!
Valentine’s Day Today
This celebration of love doesn’t have to be romantic, it can be love of family and love of friends. So, as they prepare valentines for the class, whether handmade or store- bought, urge your children to write something personal to the people they have relationships with, and classmates who might need some support. Even something as simple as “I’m glad we’re friends” or “You’re an awesome cartoonist” can go a long way. You can also encourage your children to give valentines to family members and other people who are important to them, like caregivers, teachers or family friends.
If your children have a lot of cards to give, you might want to use store-bought cards and have them personalize each one. Or hand-make a few a day so it’s a joyful experience rather than an assignment. As they write their sentiments, encourage the process by asking about each person. This will help them understand that their feelings about each person are unique. Through this process, they may discover that some people are extra special to them. Perhaps those cards can be more elaborate, or accompanied by a small gift.
The Day Of
After Valentine’s Day is celebrated at school, sit down with your children and talk about the day. Ask them to show any cards they want to share, and if they had a favorite or least favorite moment. This gentle exploration can open the door to discuss joyful, confusing, or even hurtful feelings. After that, give them a special Valentine that you made just for them. End the day in a joyful, love-filled way!