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It’s February, which means sappy Valentine’s movies, pink and red decorations, and reminders to express your affection to that special person.
For kids, teens, and even adults, this holiday may also bring anxiety, unmet expectations, and disappointment.
Kids are bombarded by messages about what love is and how love should be expressed. These messages come from many sources, including school, family, friends, church, social groups, and the media. Messages about love occur all year long, but during Valentine’s season these thoughts and expectations about love intensify. Furthermore, romantic love is often a major focus during the teen years.
Gift giving around Valentine’s Day can be especially stressful for kids, who may fear being left out. Kids often compare themselves to their friends. Seeing the gifts their friends receive can leave some kids feeling rejected or less valuable. This comparison may occur both at school and on social media.
On the flip side, Valentine’s Day is a chance for families to express love to each other and to model positive, healthy beliefs about relationships. It can be a day to look forward to, and families can develop special traditions to celebrate the day and celebrate the family unit.
In my work counseling teens and young adults, relationships are a prime topic. Relationships with both friends and romantic partners are frequently discussed in counseling. Many of the young people I see continue to carry dysfunctional and unrealistic beliefs about love, which were shaped during childhood. Because these beliefs were never questioned or challenged, the beliefs strengthened over the years and continued to negatively impact relationships and overall happiness.
The good news is that parents can help their children develop healthy beliefs about love and relationships. Valentine’s season is the perfect time to easily slip this topic into conversation. Find out what your child is thinking about the holiday, what they hope and fear, and what opinions they hold about love and relationships. Through these conversations, you can learn about your child’s beliefs and expectations about romantic love, family love, and love between friends. You can discover how these beliefs impact your child’s emotions and daily life. These conversations will help uncover unhealthy beliefs and relational styles, which should be addressed sooner rather than later.
To learn more about how I work with parents and teens, please visit my website or call for a complimentary consultation.
Dr. Becker is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Waco, TX. She provides counseling to adults and adolescents dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship concerns, and life stress. Dr. Becker is passionate about helping others, and she believes that counseling is beneficial for anyone who desires to have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. You can reach her by visiting her website, blog or Facebook page.