The concept of Valentine’s Day is an excellent one for friends, family, and partners. Having a special day dedicated for showing love and appreciation can create lifelong memories and strengthen bonds with one another. However, Valentine’s Day easily becomes stressful for many people around the world. The over-commercialization of this special day turns it into a competition for who did what, and nervous time for those who aren’t sure they’ll receive a present from their loved one.
In the midst of all this, children often find it difficult to understand what Valentine’s Day truly means. They find themselves entangled between materialism, the perception of love, and rampant gift giving. And for many children, their first exposure to Valentine’s Day comes in kindergarten. Teachers may propose activities that involve gift giving or completing an assignment regarding what this day means.
As a parent, you play an important role in helping children put this special day into perspective.
- Reflect on What Valentine’s Day Means to You
Your own reflections about Valentine’s Day are what you will ultimately share with your children. Take some time to think about what this day means to you. Are you expecting to give or receive gifts? Do you think it should involve family members giving each other gifts? How should you celebrate this special day in general?
By thinking about your own experiences and opinions about Valentine’s Day, you can refine the image that you ultimately give off to your children.
- Emphasize Family as an Important Part of the Day
As you begin explaining to your child what Valentine’s Day means, you should emphasize the importance of family. February 14th is an excellent opportunity for family members to express their love and appreciation for each other.
Make sure your child understands this by encouraging them to exchange small gifts with siblings- or with you as a parent.
- Help Your Child Fulfill School Obligations
Another important step is to find out what your child is expected to do at school. Most teachers will keep this day neutral by expecting every child to prepare a gift for others in their class.
It’s not uncommon for your child to question why they need to give others presents, especially if they don’t know or like them. This is an excellent opportunity for you to explain to your child why gift giving is important. Share stories about how someone may feel left out if they don’t receive a present, and why it’s important for your child to treat others with tolerance and appreciation.
- Teach Them the Meaning of Valentine’s Day
As you find out what your child needs to do at school, make sure you enlighten them about what Valentine’s Day truly means. In today’s world, there’s a lot of confusion around this special day and why people actually celebrate it. It’s not simply about gifts, neither is it about completing a classroom assignment.
Share the bigger picture about Valentine’s Day with your child, and make it personal by incorporating your personal experiences. For example, share with your child how you felt when you were their age, what you did in school, and which presents you received. Seeing Valentine’s Day through a parent’s eyes is one of the best ways of enlightening your child.
- Ask Your Child About Their Feelings
Remember that celebrating Valentine’s Day also involves listening to what your child feels about this occasion. Take time to engage in a dialogue with your child about what they think and what they’ve experienced in school.
First and foremost, make sure your child fulfills what the school requires them to do for this day. However, don’t force your child to give gifts if they don’t want to. A better strategy is to find out why he/she is being resistant. The child may be going through a tough experience that they need help with along the way.
- Encourage Children to Make Gifts, Not Buy Them
The over-commercialization of gift giving can easily permeate the minds of children. Indeed, your child may mistakenly view Valentine’s Day as a competition of who can buy the most expensive gift.
To eliminate this mindset, encourage children to make their own gifts rather than buying. Make sure your child has enough crayons, glue, and other art supplies to be creative. Also, encourage your child to start early when preparing gifts for others. The last minute rush can cause unnecessary anxiety.