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 that 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.
Kids who are concerned that someone might be left out truly have the Valentine's Day spirit and a caring attitude. After praising your child for being so considerate, you can help make sure that no one will be left out of the fun by preparing cards for everyone in the class.
Alternatively, 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 kids feel uneasy about sending valentines for this reason or because they don't want to send a card to someone they don'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.
Valentine's Day emotions
Some store-bought cards have messages that might not be appropriate for younger kids. 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 – inadvertently teaching them to be uneasy or embarrassed about their emotions or relationships.
Your child came home with a light valentine bag and a heavy heart? This may be a good time to talk about quality versus quantity: it's not the number of valentines received that's important but the fact that the cards are from true buddies that counts.
You can also consider starting a Valentine's Day family tradition. Presenting kids with a card, flower or other small gift can help them feel appreciated and loved, and they'll always have something special to look forward to.
Valentine’s Day bullying
Bullies are bullies – on February 14th 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.