Kids can be shy. Some, super outgoing. And when it comes time to hand out Valentines at school, some shut down completely. A little boy may worry a girl will think he likes her … and maybe he does. Others just think it's something they have to do. You know, because the teacher sent home the list of names of everyone in class. However, this little gesture can mean a world of difference to one kid.
In his book How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain (Penguin Books; 2018) author Thomas Lickona says, "We never forget acts of kindness. They touch something deep in our souls. Acts of kindness, big and small, keep us all going."
Your child's simple act of giving another child a little token of friendship could be just the thing that child needed. A little pick-me-up.
Explain Why it Could be Fun
Lots of kids get excited about this school holiday. Most because they get candy or little toys. Some don't even read the cards that come with them either. Parents say this is a moment to teach your child something, too.
“Use it as a teachable moment," says local parent Alex Boyd. "Explain that giving Valentines are like birthday cards — they make friends feel good, and it can make us feel good to give joy to others."
Don't Force It
You will have kids that don't want any part of it because of what the other kid receiving them may think. Boyd says to let him pick some very "boy" Valentines and let him pick the messages to each friend.
"Try to find some that say, ‘You are a super friend,’ or something that’s strictly friendly," adds Boyd. "Tell him it’s OK to like girls as just friends. Just try to talk it out. If he’s really worked up over it, I don’t think it’s worth pushing personally. But I do think it’s a good opportunity to help him understand that the gift is friendship not ‘liking’ someone.”
Local mom Amber Vanderlinde agrees and says that if he doesn’t want to, don’t force him. "Explain that it doesn’t mean that he ‘likes’ that person, but if he feels that way then it’s fine. It’s not mandatory,” adds Vanderlinde.
Find an Alternative
All kids have different personalities. Local mom Samantha Downing dealt with this before. "We had this come up with one of our kids and we just bought some gender-neutral Valentine’s Day cards," says Downing. "Cookies or candy bags work, too. Just explain it’s just handing out a smile.”
“Maybe he’d be OK giving out stickers instead of Valentines,” says local parent Vivian Fulton.
Tonya Heady says her son was the same way. "We bought cards that were not heart/love related," syas Heady. "The cards just read, ‘You’re a good friend.’ A good idea might be to make up his own cards saying something nice about others — something that he feels comfortable saying.”
"Some other Valentine options include pencils, bookmarks, erasers, fruit gummies or even juice boxes," says local parent Robin Carter. “Giving is an important concept to appreciate no matter how young or old you are."