The themes of love and friendship that surround the holiday of Valentine’s Day are a perfect time to teach your children about these concepts of love and kindness in actionable ways. Learning about love and kindness helps children to develop social skills that enable meaningful connection with family and friends.
Here are some specific ways you can help your child express appreciation and kindness to all the people in her life around Valentines Day.
- Read books about kindness with your children each night before bed. This article outlines a collection of books that teach children about the topic of kindness. Use bedtime as a special time to read together and talk about how we can show kindness to others in our own lives.
- Create a list of people we love and appreciate. On a posterboard you can decorate with a border of valentine stickers, invite your child to name all the people he can think of that he loves and appreciates adding to the list each night before books and bed the first week of February. You’ll be surprised how this will wire him to think of more and more people each day. The mail delivery person? The cashier at the grocery? The principal at school? Teachers? Tell him each person he lists will receive a special valentine from him.
- Make or sign pre-made valentines together. If you and our child enjoy craft activities, you can make home-made valentines by cutting out hearts and decorating. Otherwise, your child might better enjoy choosing a box of themed premade valentines at the store. Plan to make/address a number of valentines each evening after dinner beginning February 7 so there won’t be a last minute overwhelm. Use the list created the first week of the month. Most importantly as you create the valentines, talk about the people and why your child loves and appreciates them.
- Make a kindness chain. Invite your child to find something she can do every day that is an outreach of kindness for someone and at the end of the day, reflect and write it down on a strip of pink, red or white construction paper. Create a chain of kindness links adding one or more every day and by the end of the month there will be a lovely kindness chain to hang in your child’s room as a reminder.
Children learn to express love and kindness to other by seeing their parents and others in their lives setting that example. They also learn through practice and discussion. When we can bring a playful basis to the learning experience through reading books together, playing games, and doing creative and expressive activities, children learn to practice on a regular basis.