Ah, it’s that time of year when tissue boxes become mailboxes, and little candy hearts proliferate. That’s right – it’s Valentine’s Day. But just like for some adults, Valentine’s Day isn’t all hearts and roses for all of our kids.
Maybe more than some other holidays, V-Day is ripe for bullying opportunities. For elementary school students, hopefully teachers have controls in place so that every child is treated equally. However, Valentine’s Day can open up opportunities for teasing about members of the opposite sex, as well as highlight social standings (i.e. who gets “cooler” Valentines), and can reinforce cliques. And it doesn’t go away in high school either – some of you may remember things like my high school did – rose sales, or sucker sales – with all of the “cool” kids getting tons of items and others getting none.
So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips to help make sure your child’s Valentine’s Day, as well as others, are all full of heart, roses, and love.
- Be Inclusive
If your child’s school doesn’t have a policy of giving a Valentine to ALL students, then speak to your child’s teacher or principal about making such a policy. If not, make sure that your child gives a Valentine to every person in his class – and that the Valentine’s are comparable. Reinforce to your child that this is part of being polite and a good citizen, and that it is important to include everyone in the fun, even if you aren’t really good friends with a person. If your child wants to do special things for their bestie – that’s ok! Just work out a time to do so outside of the presence of others.
2. Think About Allergies
As a food allergy mama, this is an important one for me. Holidays can be sensitive points for kiddos with food allergies, as they often don’t get to participate. Want to be a hero for a kid with food allergies – bring in non-food treats, or talk to your child’s teacher about what allergies are in the classroom and bring in allergy-friendly treats. I will never forget the day that my daughter came home SO EXCITED because someone’s mom made dairy-free cupcakes that she could eat!
3. Talk About Bullying
While boxed Valentine’s cards become somewhat irrelevant to high schoolers, talking about bullying is something that ALL parents can do. Remind older students to consider others’ feelings on V-Day…even if it means not rubbing a girlfriend or boyfriend in a single friend’s face (we know how THAT feels as an adult!). Talk with your kiddos about it’s not okay to tease or exclude others, and that Valentine’s Day is a great time to help build a positive classroom community based on respect and friendship. Encourage your child to encourage HER friends to be inclusive to everyone, and discourage bullying behavior if they see it occur.
So there are a few short tips to help make sure all of our kids have a great Valentine’s Day! What tips do you have, or do you have any Valentine’s Day horror stories to share? Leave us a comment below!