When we think of Valentine’s Day, we conjure up images of flowery cards and chocolate and love proclaimed.
A parent’s vision of Valentine’s Day in their young child’s classroom is about pink cupcakes and candy hearts and lots of specially selected Valentine cards.
But the reality can be far different; Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for below the radar bullying. When children take their individually addressed Valentine cards to class, they are expected to address a card to every child in the class. That is not always what happens, children can “leave off” names of children they do not like or an unkind message can be written in specific cards.
To avoid hurt feelings, encourage your child’s class to have each child provide an unaddressed card for every child in the room. Even if a child chooses not to give a card to everyone, it will be done anonymously and will not be obvious unless a child calls attention to who does not get their cards; there is no opportunity to write unkind notes in cards when names are not on each card.
This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to discuss bullying with their children. Bullying is not always loud and aggressive; it is often quiet and subtle. What seems unimportant when your child may want to exclude a child from their Valentine list may be a warning of things to come.
Talk to your child about how they would feel if someone excluded them, encourage your child to think about how others feel when they are excluded.
Explore your child’s reasons for not wanting to give a Valentine to someone in their class. You may find out that your child is feeling uncomfortable about some of the children in their class and the way they treat classmates; take this opportunity to listen to your child’s thoughts and then decide if listening and reassuring is enough in this situation or if you need to speak proactively with the teacher before your child is hurt.
Valentine’s Day can be one of the most fun holidays of the year for a young child! But as parents, we always need to be on watch not only to protect our children, but to take every opportunity to teach our values to our children while they are still learning how the world works.
Find a book or try one of our art projects below to share with your child.
Enjoy some of these fun and easy Valentines Art Projects with your child.
Tissue Paper Hearts
Tree of Hearts