Valentine's Day is approaching and for many kids that means classroom parties, handmade cards, and lots and lots of candy. But for some kids, the day isn't all hearts and flowers. Broken hearts abound on Valentine's Day, even for kids — especially for kids who may not have the tools or life experience to give the day some perspective. Here's how to help your child nurse a broken heart on when love is in the air.
In many classrooms, teachers ask that kids who give valentines must give them to everyone in the class. But this is not always the case, and that means some kids will have a "Valentine Box" overflowing with cards while others may only have a few — or worse yet, none. Anna Hackman of Green Talk remembers this happening to her sister when she as young and at a new school. Anna remembers feeling broken hearted seeing her sister cry with her mom that day. So how can you help your child deal with a scarcity of cards? Remind her to focus on the quality, not the quantity of cards received. The few cards she did receive were likely from good friends who really care about her and that is more important than a popularity contest any day.
What if your child receives a Valentine from someone whose affection they don't return? Diane Hoffmaster of Turning the Clock Back remembers one year when a boy gave her daughter a huge plastic heart and not just the little card he gave everyone else. "She was incredibly embarrassed but I just told her to be flattered and tell him thank you," said Diane. "Since she has zero interest in boys; she would rather ignore him completely but that isn't really polite." She's sure to feel embarrassed if she's singled out for a mushy Valentine from someone she doesn't like "in that way." Help her to downplay the event by talking to her in advance about saying 'thank you,' and moving on with the day.
So what if your child is the one with the unrequited love? Even at a young age, some kids develop crushes. Jenna from Louisiana remembers her son spending hours to create the perfect Valentine for a girl he really liked. But on the big day she didn't even have a generic card to give him in return. Experts say the most important thing you can do is give your child support. Don't brush his crush under the rug or make it seem unimportant. Of course, you won't be able to resist reminding him why he is such a catch and that any girl who doesn't agree is a fool. But also try to get him to talk about his feelings and listen without judging.