Kids and Valentine’s Day
Once February arrives, your kids may notice an abundance of advertisements for Valentine’s Day, including displays full of hearts, flowers, candy, teddy bears, and other gift items. Though it may be tempting to down-play the significance of Valentine’s Day when your children are young, keep in mind that they are discovering new ideas every day about love and what it means.
Everyone is different when it comes to expressing love. Some families show love through physical affection and/or by saying, “I love you” outright. Other people are less comfortable with directly demonstrating their love like this and choose to show it in more subtle ways. Valentine’s Day is an excellent opportunity for you to get to know how your child chooses to convey their love, how they interpret and receive it, and how you can help them establish healthy approaches to expressing their feelings.
Here is a list of questions to start a discussion about expressing love with your child. Be sure to keep the content and length of the conversation at an age-appropriate level.
- How do you show your family that you love them?
- Is it hard to love people sometimes (especially a sibling)?
- How do you know that Mommy and/or Daddy loves you?
- Do you think animals show love to each other or to their humans?
- How do you show your friends that you love them?
- Is there a way to show love to our neighbors?
- Can you think of a way we can show love to the Earth?
Be prepared for your child to turn such questions on you as well! This is a great chance for you to consider the way you express love and share it with others.
All Different Kinds of Love
With the emphasis on romantic love in movies, television programs, and even commercials, kids are likely to get the impression on Valentine’s Day and throughout the rest of the year that this is the most important type of love. Therefore, it’s essential to show your child that there are many kinds of love to recognize and experience for a balanced and happy life.
One way to illustrate this is to help them make a “love” chart. Create a column on one side of a poster or large piece of paper and list with your child of all the people in their life who love them. This may include friends, family members, neighbors, classmates, teachers, pets, etc. You can be sure to put yourself at the top of the list!
Then create another column for a list of people and things that your child loves. This list can be even broader and include activities, places, foods, and even cultural experiences. Allow your child to draw pictures or place stickers on their “love” chart so it is a work of art to display.
Most importantly, make sure that your kids put themselves in both columns! Children often need reinforcement when it comes to loving and accepting themselves, and self-love should be acknowledged and practiced throughout childhood as well as adulthood.
This chart can act as a concrete visual that there are all different kinds of love to experience. It’s also helpful for times when your child may feel lonely or left out in some way. They will have a reminder of how important they are to others and how many people and things are important to them. This can be a great annual Valentine’s Day tradition as well to see how their social circles enlarge and interests change!
Keep Expectations Measured
Sometimes adults get caught up in the expectations of romance, flowers, chocolates, and especially material gifts on Valentine’s Day without realizing what they are modeling for their ever-watchful children. Of course, you and your romantic partner should express your love on Valentine’s Day in whatever manner you choose. However, rather than putting the focus on gifts that you expect to get, this is an excellent chance to show your child how good it feels to do something unexpected and kind for the one you love.
For example, you and your child can come up with a list of kind things to do as a Valentine’s surprise for your spouse or significant other. Some ideas may include:
- Cooking a nice meal
- Making a yummy dessert
- Getting the car washed
- Doing a “procrastinated” task
- Folding laundry
- Allowing “me” time for relaxation
- Planting flowers
Kids typically love to make their parents and other family members happy by planning and being part of fun ideas and thoughtful gestures. Of course, you don’t have to wait for February to come around to perform these little acts of love. However, Valentine’s Day is a wonderful chance for this kind of expression. This will also reinforce to your children that expensive gifts or over-the-top romantic actions on Valentine’s Day aren’t realistic expectations.
One of the best ways to express your love to your children and as a family is to spend time together learning and having fun. At Cognisprings, we support parents looking for educational toys that encourage exploration of a child’s surroundings as well as independent play. That’s why we provide games, books, and puzzles that are thoughtfully designed and unique to enhance children’s critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity.
Our products also allow children to express themselves as individuals and members of larger groups such as their family, culture, etc. It’s more important than ever for families to connect and learn with each other, in addition to creating lasting memories by prioritizing excellent options for screen-free fun, healthy cognitive development, creativity, and expression.