. Valentine's Day - Manitoba Parent Zone | Healthy Child Manitoba
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Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day can be a fun and exciting time for children and teens. Young children might be thrilled to make valentine's cards for loved ones, or to exchange cards at preschool or in class, and teens might be looking forward to going on dates or attending parties. But sometimes Valentine's Day can make children feel left out or lonely. And as with other major holidays, we are often tempted to spend money to show how much we care. Talking with your children is the key to make sure that your kids have a fun and positive Valentine's Day this year.

Toddlers and young children might not understand the concept of exchanging valentines, but you can still take the opportunity to talk to your toddler about love and friendship. Young children also love to sing and dance. To celebrate the day, you might make up silly songs about friendship, or make up some simple rhymes. You can also play a simple sorting game by cutting out hearts of different sizes from construction paper or cardstock. Your little one will enjoy matching them and sorting them by size.

For school age children, it's a good idea to talk to your child's teacher to see if he or she has planned for Valentine's Day. Are children allowed or expected to exchange cards? Are treats allowed? A good rule of thumb for card and treat exchanges are to include all the children in the class and the teacher – ensuring no one gets left out. At many schools, this is an expectation. At other schools, cards and treats might not be allowed at all.

If your child's school encourages sending cards to every child in class, you could talk to your child about the reasons behind this. If your child is upset that he or she must give a Valentine to someone he doesn't really like, listen to his feelings. You can gently ask questions to show that you are interested in your child's perspective. You can also discuss what it feels like if we are not included in things. He or she might be able to recall how it feels to be left out, or you can share an experience of your own.

If your child chooses not to give Valentines to his friends at all, respect his decision. It might be a good idea to explore why this is, but try to stay curious about his reasons, and make an effort not to make him feel guilty or awkward.

Your child might also want to take special treats to school to celebrate. Consider spending some time making snacks with your child. One great idea is an edible valentine: for each valentine, use a graham cracker or plain sugar cookie. Decorate with icing or candy conversation hearts, and wrap in plastic wrap before sharing with friends. You can also think about sending healthier options than traditional Valentine's fare, such as fruits and vegetables or whole grain crackers and cheese.

There are other creative ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. A middle year's child might really enjoy learning about the traditions of other cultures, and why they may or may not celebrate Valentine's Day or something similar. Invite him to do research with you on the Internet, or take a trip to the nearest library and spend the afternoon together.

For teens, there might be more pressure to date or to have a boyfriend or girlfriend as Valentine's Day approaches. Talk to your teen about this if you think he or she might be experiencing this pressure. Encourage your teen to spend time with friends and supportive people, and to develop his or her own interests. Perhaps your teen could plan a movie night with friends, or an outdoor activity with a group.

With children of any age, spend some time talking about how we show affection and caring for others. Although Valentine's Day has romantic undertones, people of all ages can appreciate hearing that others love and care for them. Talk to your child about the variety of ways to show others that they care. You might also want to think about how you and your partner show each other affection and love in more practical, daily ways, such as fulfilling promises to each other or being kind, even when you are having a bad day. Be sure to give your kids some extra hugs, too!