Teach children to show love and kindness to others on Valentine's Day.

Valentine CardCredit: holiday-crafts-and-creations.com

Children are influenced by the examples of those around them, especially adults.  When Valentine's Day rolls around they get excited about giving and getting Valentine cards from their friends.  They see these cards as an innocent expression of love towards each other.

Generally a child will bring home a list of their classmates from school and will spend an entire evening signing cards for all of their friends.  These cards are ones they have carefully chosen from the store shelves and are a personal expression of who they are.  It's an exciting time thinking about getting a sweet little Valentine from that special boy or girl they have a secret crush on.  Many will spend hours making a special envelope or box so their friends can give them a Valentine card or maybe even a piece of candy.

It's a sad thing to watch when a child is shunned by others and finds no or few Valentine cards in their collection box. 

Why does this happen? Children, in their innocence don't understand why they have been shunned and it can hurt terribly.  As an adult it hurts even more to watch their sad reaction to what has happened to them.

As adults, it's important to teach children that if they give a card to one classmate, then they should include all of their classmates, not just a select few.  By doing this we are teaching them to accept others unconditionally.  We have a responsibility to teach them not to judge others and to remember that everyone has feelings and should be respected.  Respect for others begins at home and is easily taught or discouraged by the example of parents.

Valentine's Day is an excellent opportunity to teach children about other types of love besides the romantic kind. 

They can learn to show real love by serving others.

  • Why not take your children to a senior retirement home so they can distribute homemade heart-shaped cookies to the elderly?  
  • Visit the children's ward in a nearby hospital to give sick children homemade Valentine cards.
  • Take time to visit an elderly or shut-in neighbor with a nice little Valentine treat.
  • Spend the evening volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen.  Let the children hand out cookies or Valentine candy to the homeless.
  • Seek out other opportunities so your children can show love by serving others.

Show love to other family members.  Make it a point to have everyone do a special loving act for each member of the family on Valentine's Day. 

Ideas for simple acts of kindness or love:

  • Give dad a hug and kiss before he leaves in the morning
  • Help each other with their chores
  • Write a note to each other telling something special that they really love about them
  • Hide surprise little gifts, treats, or cards to each other
  • Write Valentine cards to extended family members such as grandpa and grandma
  • Spend time expressing your love for each other

Teaching by example is so powerful with children.  They will mirror your words and actions.  If they see their parents treating each other with kindness and love, they will do the same.  If they hear loud voices and harsh words, they will express themselves in the same manner. 

Teach teenagers that displays of affection are only appropiate at certain times and should be regarded as something special.  They should be taught the responsibilities of expressing and giving love and how important it is to never cross certain boundaries until they are old enough to handle the consequences of their actions.  A young woman needs to understand that she never has an obligation to show affection for a young man unless it is appropriate and wanted.

Valentine's Day is an excellent opportunity to help children understand the different meanings of love and how they can show kindness and real love to others by their service and actions.