Valentine’s Day is next week, and we wanted to issue a challenge around one of Girls Leadership’s beloved year-round traditions: Love Notes. Writing a Love Note is a quick yet meaningful action for many reasons. Lifting up another person is a powerful way to step into positive feelings. Writing Love Notes helps us learn to ask specific questions about what it is we admire about someone: to consider behaviors and actions rather than how a person looks. This is critical for girls growing up in a world that tells them their worth is anchored in their appearance. Love Notes help us teach kids (and remind ourselves!) to think about identity and relationships not as who is in or out of one’s squad, which leads to an increase in anxiety, but to reflect on different qualities of people, which leads to an increase in empathy (yes please!). Finally, Love Notes can be a much needed touchstone after a hard day, and we all know there are plenty of hard days.
We are issuing a challenge this week: Write three quick Love Notes.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Take 10–15 minutes together
Invite other family members or friends for a Love Note writing session. There may be some resistance to this vulnerable style of communication, and that is OK. Simply issue the invite and create a relaxed vibe (we recommend putting on tunes, the way our staff does). If you have craft supplies, great! Otherwise, any style of paper or small cards will do.
2. Identify three people who pop into your mind quickly
Start this exercise by letting your subconscious brain do the work: who are three people who pop into your mind quickly? It could be someone who you feel really happy about, or it could be a person with whom you have recently experienced struggle. The whole spectrum of relationships matters, and acknowledging this helps show girls that life is not about finding specific be-all and end-all relationships (e.g., BFF, squad, boyfriend, girlfriend), but about building many kinds of relationships and relationship skills.
Extra points for notes written to those people who aren’t always fully seen, such as the rolling drop-off volunteers (for those living in car-centered places), nursing home staff, or those who provide cleaning or janitorial support.
3. Think of something specific that you admire about each of those three people
Think about what qualities you admire in each person, or something the person said or did that impacted you. Often we connect with others in the easiest way possible — around things we can see, like a great outfit or haircut. Push past the surface to recognize what someone does or who they are. There is nothing wrong with complimenting a great pair of jeans, but Love Notes teach people how to connect at the next level. Again, this is especially important for girls who start being valued for external appearances before they are even verbal.
4. Write your Love Notes!
The beauty of Love Notes is that they are short — one to three sentences is great, as long as it is specific. You can see some wonderful examples in this post Janene Goodman shared on writing Love Notes to her daughters. Here are a few more examples you could share for inspiration with your girl.
- [Name], I am so inspired whenever I see your art projects. Your attention to detail and the way you draw expressions on faces is amazing.
- [Name], I love how you support other classmates when they are having a hard time.
- [Name], I admire how you handled the disappointment at the last basketball game. I know it wasn’t easy.
This is a great exercise to do anytime, alone or with people, but we hope you will try this with a girl in your life so that she can see you reflect on your relationships, express yourself, and take some potentially awkward risks.