A Valentine Project to Develop Children’s Self-Esteem
It is often said that the greatest love you can ever possess is the ability to truly love yourself. As St Valentine’s Day approaches, let us look then at the opportunity it provides us with to reflect on the notion of love. A lot of adolescents are suffering because of low self-esteem. As adolescence begins, the psychological task faced begins to shift. No longer is the main unconscious process focussed on learning how to accomplish and how to complete various tasks. Rather the unconscious mind is concerned with identity formation, the adolescent mind becoming engaged in a process of coming to know who the self really is. With this stage of psychological development comes an understandable heightened sense of self-consciousness, particular in relation to how others perceive them to be. And hence the increased risk to self esteem, when so much attention regarding whether a person feels ‘of worth’ is on something that is external to the self. The key protective factor for adolescent mental health is to have instilled in them a solid sense of their own self worth. Valentine’s Day affords us with the opportunity to begin this process.
A simple way to begin to get children to focus on self-worth is to suggest that they make a Valentine’s card for themselves. By explaining the importance of the value of loving yourself, it becomes a fun, creative way for children from age of 6 to 11 to engage with the concept of self-worth. Children are more likely to engage with learning if it is taught in a fun, creative way and this simple exercise provides children with the opportunity to focus on what it is they love about being themselves.
It can be hard not to become somewhat cynical about the commercialisation of St Valentine ’s Day. But it is a day to celebrate love and it is one we should engage in with gusto. Let us seize the opportunity to teach our children that the most important relationship they will ever have is the one they have with themselves. They deserve the opportunity to develop skills to build self-worth. Mental health matters…. so too does love.