February 2015

Many Ways to Say I Love You

By Hedda Sharapan

Valentine’s Day reminds me of a drawing I received in the mail from my 3-year-old granddaughter, sent from her child care center.  At the top was a note she dictated to her teacher, explaining that the scribbles, lines and circles said, “I love you, Grandma Hedda.”  What a treasure!

Actually, the letter wasn’t for Valentine’s Day.  It was for a lesson about the mail.  The children were to make pictures to send in the mail to people they love.  And I have to say that, with all the e-mails and text messages these days, there’s still something special about receiving a “love note” in the mail.

I told my granddaughter how much that meant to me,  and I also made it a point to thank her teacher for giving her (and the other children) that opportunity to express their love – and not just on Valentine’s Day.  I couldn’t help but think about one of our favorite Neighborhood songs about “many ways to say I love you.” 

Fred wrote that song to help children know that loving isn’t just one-sided, from grownups to children, but that children themselves have so many wonderful ways to say “I love you.”  Watch how he talked and sang about that in this Neighborhood video.  It's full of caring messages for Valentine’s Day – and every day! 

You, too, are helping children learn lots of everyday ways to express their love – including some you may not have realized:

Little things matter.
In our society these days, many people (young and old alike) think that we show love with “big” things – buying presents or making a big fuss over a child with lavish praise, or taking children to a special event.  Fred helped all of us remember that little everyday things can be some of the most wonderful ways to show our love.

Here are some ideas from Fred’s song and beyond:

- Helping to find something;
- Talking with someone about how you feel;
- Comforting someone who is sad;
- Sharing something that you found interesting;
- Cleaning up;
- Making up a dance or a song for someone;
- Doing something kind, like bringing someone a tissue;
- Simply saying “I love you” or giving a warm smile.

I wonder what other ideas the children might have.

Your work is "love" work too.
When you think about it, the work that you do with and for children is “love” work.  It’s a different kind of love than in a family.  But it‘s all about building relationships with the children. 

Think about the little everyday things you do to strengthen that relationship -- when you comfort them, listen to them, kindly but firmly help them with limits (Fred often said that “setting limits is part of loving”), give a hug, a wink, a high five, or listen caringly.   Those are all ways that you show them “I care about you.” 

Children need to know you really care  about them, their thoughts, their feelings, their ideas -- that’s what makes them want to learn from you.  That’s not just a message for Valentine’s Day – it’s for every day.   

Hedda Sharapan
M.S. Child Development
Director of Early Childhood Initiatives


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Timeless Wisdom
From Fred Rogers

Deep within us—no matter who we are—there lives a feeling of wanting to be lovable, of wanting to be the kind of person that others like to be with. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.  

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