Guest blogger and Life Coach, Deb Smith, offers advice on handling the emotional issues that may arise during Valentine’s Day with your children and their peers.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to briefly address a few issues that might arise on this day of love.
Not all schools have an all or nothing policy when it comes to card and gift distribution. If your child is in one of those classrooms, there may exist an opportunity for life long lessons.
Not all children will go home with an overflowing box of Valentine’s Day cards. This does not necessarily mean your child is not likable nor that s/he does not have friends in the class.
As in adult groups there are those individuals that possess a certain attraction and/or magnetism. They might be physically attractive, have a great sense of humor/personality or a genuine sense of caring and kindness. Children recognize these qualities as well rewarding them with attention … cards and candy being the most popular choice to express this attention on Valentine’s Day.
So how do we help our little ones deal with the complications of the day?
What if your child receives a gift from someone they do not particularly like? This situation is a double edged sword. We want to instill manners and etiquette in our children, yet in this day and age of rising statistics involving abusive relationships we also want to instill boundaries and self-confidence.
Typically an initial response is a simple thank you. It is important for your child to consider the feelings of the other child responding in a respectful and kind manner. If the unwanted attention continues it is important even for very young children to know they are not obligated to accept these gestures.
Teaching them to say no is an invaluable lesson – especially for girls who so often are taught to be non-assertive and polite. They may need to know you are there to support them and will step in if necessary modeling appropriate self-assertion.
What if your little one is the one to have their cards and gifts rejected? Don’t minimize the situation yet do make sure your child is seeing the incident in perspective. Listen to them, let them lean on you, cry on your shoulder. Encourage them to express their feelings. Help normalize their experience by sharing your own such experience or by sharing a similar experience of someone your child knows and cares for including a follow up of a successful outcome. Let them know that these feelings will pass just as the waves in the ocean eventually calm themselves.
And finally, what if your child comes home with just a few cards?This is a great opportunity to talk about quality vs. quantity in friendships. Let them know it is even more important to have a few good friends who never forget them then to have many cards from kids they never play with on the playground nor see outside of school.
If the cards were severely scarce, it might be an opportunity to explore the possibility of social anxiety which may be holding your child back, or the possibility that your child engages in offensive behavior, such as bullying or teasing which may be holding other children back!
In all of these possible instances, there is an opportunity for valuable lessons which will help promote resilience, respect and self-assertion.
Don’t let them pass by without acknowledgment!