By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt

This Valentine’s Day, our children will celebrate the holiday with a plethora of chocolates and sweets. Plus, tear-apart cards for school friends, and maybe even small gifts, toys, or stuffed animals. This year, I am committed to celebrate my child in an additional and special way.

Valentine’s Day originated as a Christian feast to recognize martyr Saint Valentine. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other. They did this by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards known as “valentines.”

My ten-year-old son’s love language is giving and receiving gifts. Whatever the occasion may be, and whatever we may think he will appreciate from us (for instance, we love to gift experiences more than physical gifts sometimes,) having something tangible to give to him as a present is essential.

While we will purchase a small present to give to him on Valentine’s Day, I plan to take the time leading up to February 14 to celebrate him in a distinctive way. Even for children who do not frequently request verbal confirmation of the characteristics and traits that make them unique, every child will take to heart special words and actions provided to them by those they love and value the most.

Starting on February 1, I plan to cut out a heart from construction paper, write a sentence that describes my son, leave it on his nightstand for when he wakes up in the morning, and do so every morning through Valentine’s Day.

Having a prior background in education, I found more specific words and phrases reach the heart of children better. This is in contrast to the typical use of more generic affirmations. For instance, instead of writing, “You are so smart!” I plan to write something like “I recognize how you are trying your hardest in math.” Instead of writing “You are such a great swimmer,” I will write, “I love your commitment to practicing swimming!” Instead of “You make me proud,” I may instead write, “When you were frustrated recently, you remembered to count backwards from ten to calm down. I was proud of your mature decision!”

My goal with this small act of affection and confirmation is to grow my son’s confidence. Moreover, I want to celebrate and encourage his wise choices. In addition, this provides another way of showing love to him.

If you decide to try this celebration of your child leading up to Valentine’s Day, here are a few other examples of sentences to write. “I appreciate how you have been showing kindness to your brother/sister lately.” Additionally, “It makes me feel proud when you take the time to hold the door open for others.” Lastly, “I recognize that you have been doing chores recently without me asking you. That helps me tremendously, and I am very grateful for you!”

I hope that your child enjoys reading your Valentines hearts every morning. I know they will cherish and value what you affirm about them, since they cherish and value you!

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