For some, Valentine’s Day has no meaning and is simply a holiday invented by the card companies. For others, it’s an opportunity for romance and candy and cards. Regardless of how you choose to view the holiday related to your adult relationships, Valentine’s Day can actually be a wonderful opportunity to teach our kids about love.
Love is a complicated subject, and depending on the ages of our children, there is much to teach and discuss. If you’re looking for ways to embrace Valentine’s Day as a teachable moment, here are some ideas for how you can do it:
Love means treating others as we want to be treated
Helping our kids begin to understand the concept of empathy is important. We would all make better decisions if we imagined how it would feel to be in another person’s shoes as we navigate life’s twists and turns.
One way to help children begin to grasp this concept is to volunteer your time together to help a charity or organization that is important to your family. For younger kids, there are often many opportunities to help animal shelters. Helping innocent and adorable animals is a surefire way to pull at your little one’s heart strings. Also, finding local organizations that help kids around the same age as your children gives them a more tangible way to really put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Whether it’s assembling school backpacks, sorting donated clothes, building a bed, or painting a mural at a nearby community center, the impact is made when you gently encourage your children to imagine if the tables were turned and that they were the ones in need.
Love means random acts of kindness
Connecting love with kindness not only helps your children to become more thoughtful people, it also helps them understand that they should always expect kindness from the people that love them as well. The days of teasing and hair pulling as a sign that someone “likes” you are over. It’s so important to teach children that only true acts of kindness and friendship can be connected with loving relationships.
Brainstorming random acts of kindness with your children is half the fun so set aside time to make a list of ideas. It’s fun to come up with random acts of kindness that your children can perform on their own as well as acts that you can work on as a family. Leaving a present in the mailbox of someone who needs her spirits lifted, paying for another family’s ice cream treats, and shoveling the snow off of a neighbor’s driveway are all wonderful ideas. You can’t go wrong though if the focus is being kind, so let your creative juices flow as a family and you’ll enjoy the process as much as committing the acts!
Family love is unconditional
It can be challenging for children to understand the boundless love that parents have for their kids. Most of us probably didn’t even realize the full extent of parental love until we became parents ourselves! If we want our children to understand that they can always come to us and that we will always love them no matter what happens, we can use the month of Valentine’s Day to demonstrate this in a fun and festive way.
No matter what day of the month it is, cut out a paper heart for each day remaining in the month. Before your children wake up in the morning, tape one of the hearts to their bedroom doors having written something that you love about them on the heart. When your kids see that you are still loving and celebrating them regardless of how good or bad of a day they had, they will begin to understand the depth of your unconditional love for them.
Love means celebrating difference and love of all kinds
In a world where it can often seem like negativity reigns, it is more important than ever to help children see the beauty of love of all kinds. Helping kids to understand that there is no single way to love and that there is beauty both in our similarities and differences is a poignant lesson to embrace on Valentine’s Day.
February is a perfect month to find books about love in all different kinds of families as libraries will typically have their love-themed books out on display. All families are not the same and that is a beautiful thing because they were created with love. February is also Black History Month which provides opportunity for discussing and celebrating important achievements in history. To help our children grow into open-minded and loving people, we can show them how important it is to understand the past and the struggles that people face today in order to move into a more loving and connected future.
We don’t have to buy into the Hallmark version of Valentine’s Day, but a holiday focused on love gives us the chance to share some valuable lessons. Working together as a family to show our love for each other and our love for others is a beautiful thing and allows us to redefine the holiday with a focus on empathy, kindness, generosity, and education. Enjoy this special family opportunity!
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