Valentine’s Day can be quite devisive. It’s the Marmite of holidays. Some people love the romance and the whimsy, while others see it as a consumerist celebration exploited by card manufacturers, florists and chocolate producers to make us spend money unnecessarily.
I sit somewhere between these two camps. I agree that we shouldn’t have to wait until a designated day to tell those we love that we love them. We also shouldn’t feel pressure to buy over inflated red roses just because it is a particular date on the calendar. But at the same time, I just can’t resist the urge to make a little extra effort because it is a celebration of this romantically minded Saint.
There are many legends surrounding the origins of Valentine’s Day but the origins are unknown.
One thing that is for sure, the western world has embraced it and for many a day they celebrate more passionately than any other day of the year.
Whatever your views on Valentine’s Day I would like to give your a few thoughts and activities which might make you think and give you a new perspective on this celebration.
Why should we celebrate this day in schools?
I know schools have varying ideas about celebrating this day. Some see it as being associated only with romantic love and therefore inappropriate. Some embrace it as a day of celebrating love in all its many forms, sending little notes of appreciation to each other and making cards to thank special people in their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to tell people I love them. Not just anyone obviously, but if I do love you, you will know it and I will tell you often. In fact it is not unusual for my husband’s response to me saying “I love you” to be “you just said that!” – *giggle*
What I want to think about this Valentine’s Day in schools though isn’t just showing appreciation to others (which frankly we should do everyday anyway!), I want to think about self love.
Increasingly we hear about younger and younger children self harming. We hear about teachers committing suicide, self medicating and worse. We are facing a mental wellbeing crisis.
Social media and the media in general project unrealistic images of what life “should” be like. Fake photos of photoshopped people living in set-like houses and showing only the good side of life.
All of this contributes to our feelings that we are failing. We believe we are too fat, too thin, not wearing enough make up, wearing too much make up, that we need to own certain products and live in a certain way to be happy.
None of this is true.
Happiness can only come from within.
It doesn’t matter what you own, how much “stuff” you have, what you look like, you will never be happy unless you can learn to be happy with who you are and what you have. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are some of the most unhappy.
Our children are so precious. There is a very famous quote by Frederick Douglass: “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men“. This is as true now as it was in 1855 when he wrote it. He was talking about the slave trade but it is applicable to life in general.
Often the biggest issues we have to deal with in our adult life have roots in comments or treatment in childhood.
It is almost impossible to raise a child or teach a child without ever saying something which might negatively impact on them, they might misinterpret a comment or overhear part of a conversation that they shouldn’t be listening to. Sometimes as a parent we just get tired and despair and say things we don’t mean.
How can we teach children to love themselves?
How we speak to our children becomes their inner voice. We must make sure that as far as possible we speak kindly to children. That is not to say that we must never correct, or even tell them off, but making sure that the issue is theirs not ours is a useful thing to remember. Use positive language.
Encourage them to try new things. Give them opportunities to prove that they are capable, that they can learn new skills and that they are able.
Complement them on their achievements not just their appearance. It is so easy to comment on how lovely they look but do we remember to comment when they find a solution to a problem without help?
Emphasise the differences between the children in your class in a positive way. We all have different skills and that is a magical thing, not something to fear or be upset about.
Why not spend Valentine’s Day this year celebrating self love in your classroom?
There are so many ways to celebrate self love.
- Remind the children how special they are by asking them all to write one kind thing about each of their classmates. You could write a child’s name at the top of a piece of paper or index card and then pass them round until everyone has written something positive about every member of the class. Then return the paper to the person whose name is at the top so they can read what everyone else has said about them.
- Ask the children to write down all the things they are good at, all the things they are grateful for or what makes them special.
- Ask the children to fill a heart shaped piece of paper with words which make them loveable.
- Have a talent show where the children can show their class mates the amazing things they can do.
- Ask the children to write “I am…” at the top of a piece of paper and then write all the words which describe them all over the paper. They can be physical descriptions, talents, personality traits, positive and negative.
Why not read stories which teach about the importance of being your own special self (I have included a selection of my favourites below).
I also have a collection of worksheets which creates a lovely booklet called “Sparkly Me” which is very reasonably priced at just £4.50. It explores all aspects of self confidence, body confidence , self esteem and many more aspects of self love. Why not take a look and use that as a focus this Valentines Day?