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It's My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To: Valentine's Madness

It's My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To: Valentine's Madness

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With Valentine's Day around the corner, we explore the how and why of preparing our children for a big day. With lots of expectations for our children and us, here are four tips to help you communicate what these celebrations are all about!

Valentine's Day is February 14th, and on your calendar there is a task in red: "Feel love! Give love and be happy". Here in the U.S., we celebrate this "day of love" by buying gifts and going to fancy dinners while our children pick out "v-day cards" to deliver to their Valentines-classmates. We send flowers (mainly pink and red), decorate hearts and cupids, deliver expensive yummy chocolates, and mail "I Love You" cards (even to our dogs and cats… I've seen it, I swear!).
Isn't the essence of this day meant to bring great positive emotions?!

Valentine's Day brings with it the pressure to feel a certain feeling, and even more so, to express it to people around us. Now, imagine what our children are facing. Sometimes for the first time, feelings of crushes and excitement over who will give them a card or who will overlook them. That is quite a lot of pressure. With all this emotion buzzing around, how about a family discussion about LOVE DAY prior to February 14th?

Do our kids always need to be happy just because it is a special day of love? Or even their birthday? The first place that acceptance of emotion begins, is in your home!

Think for a moment about the first time you experienced emotions that were less than desirable? In my many years working with families and children, I have heard a lot of stories about children who are sad and crying on their most anticipated day, their birthday party! There is so much expectation building prior to the big day, and sometimes it brings overwhelming feelings, which are far from what they, or we, expected.

Here are 4 tools to prepare your child for any highly anticipated day: a birthday, a play, a concert performance, or even Valentine's Day.

  1. Attitude: Any celebration is all about the attitude. Talk about the day before it arrives in a way that is non-threatening to your child. Explaining what the day is really about. Something like: "We come together to enjoy each other and to express feelings of love". It is not a competition over the best Valentine card, or the best cookie design. Remind them of this on the morning of, as well.
  2. Expectations: There are no expectations to be at our best mood. If your child feels a bit overwhelmed or concerned, it is understandable, and sometimes even anticipated (especially for that big birthday party).Make sure there is a safe place for every emotion, as long as they express it with the right tone.
  3. Acceptance: Big celebration days are not about the gifts, the Valentines, the presents, or the perfect cards. Holidays are about accepting ourselves and our family and friends the way we are, while making and enjoying each other.
  4. Keep it Simple: Allow your family to have and keep their traditions. It can be as simple as just saying something positive about each other that day, making red milk, or giving each other a coupon to be together.  Traditions help define a family unit, and provide great opportunities for fun memories and consistency!

Remember, COMMUNICATION is key! Let your child be part of the celebration rather than feeling responsible for the happiness of the day. This is a great opportunity for life lessons about expectations. You are building a foundation of trust and honesty to express any emotion, even on a day that is filled with LOVE everywhere you look on the billboards. Help your little one know- it is their party and they can cry if they want to!

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