One of the things that makes Valentine’s Day such a unique holiday is that it’s the only one that doesn’t commemorate an event or honor a person or the passage of time. It’s about a feeling: love.
And it can be a little emotionally overwhelming, especially for kids, as they’re still learning about their feelings. As educators, parents, counselors, therapists or others who work with children, it’s important for us to both acknowledge kids’ emotions and teach them ways of handling them.
Here, I think back to what I wrote last year about an experience with one of my Yoga Calm groups – one that showed the stress that such an emotionally loaded day such as Valentine’s can have on kids and an activity we came up with for helping them manage that stress. Jim and I would like to share it with you again in hopes that it will inspire you to come up with your own activities for making this Valentine’s Day an opportunity for emotional learning and growth for the kids you work with.
And if it does, please share your story about it in the comments section!
– Lynea Gillen
Recently, a group of five fifth grade boys in one of my Yoga Calm groups said they had something “really important to talk with me about.” It had “something to do about” their feelings.
Over the course of the year, these boys had gradually opened up about all sorts of things in our groups, from bullying to troubles with parents and siblings. Sometimes they’d cry and, most endearingly, support each other when they cried – something very hard for boys this age to do when peer and social expectations are for them to be tough.
“What’s going on,” I asked them.
They replied that they were “really stressed.” When I asked why, they said, “It’s Valentine’s day.”
“Valentine’s day?” I responded with a bit of surprise.
“Yes, the girls are asking for cards, but we don’t know what to write!” explained one boy. “We don’t know how to do Valentines.”
Trying not to smile or laugh, I asked if some girls were easier to talk to than others, thinking a friendship lesson might be in order. But I knew that wasn’t where we were going as soon as one boy said, “The beautiful ones are harder to talk to.”
“And there are a lot of beautiful girls,” added another.
Maintaining my composure, I asked if I could ask the some girls from the afternoon Yoga Calm class if they had some Valentine’s advice for the boys. “No!” they said emphatically.
“What if it’s done anonymously?” They looked at each other, then gave the O.K.
My girls’ Yoga Calm group met later that day, and during the end-of-session relaxation, I asked if I could ask an important question – one they could answer only by listening to their hearts. I told them that there were some boys who really needed advice on Valentine’s Day. At first, the girls snickered but then gave their answers:
- Tell the girl how you really feel about her.
- Don’t ask her to be your Valentine if you don’t know her.
- Tell her she has nice hair and eyes – girls like to hear that.
- Don’t use a scrawny voice.
- Act formal – and do it where no one else can hear.
- Don’t ask in front of your friends, as this puts pressure on her.
- Ask her in person instead of a letter.
- Give a compliment or two, but don’t smother her with them.
- Don’t ask twice.
- Say “Be Mine” on the card.
Perhaps, this would be good advice for all, young and old!