Everyone is secretly battling something behind closed doors—whether it be an abusive relationship, stress at work, or a health issue. Of course, there’s no way to know what those things are when you can’t see them, and it makes it difficult to help or to be considerate of these issues without a sign. That’s why children around the United States started sporting tiny hearts drawn on their wrists.
While they might initially look like simple doodles, these hearts actually represent something more significant. So if you ever see a child walking around with a tiny heart drawn on their wrist, you don’t have to wonder any more about what it means…
It’s important to remember that everyone has their battles. Whether it’s money trouble or a family member fighting an illness, we all know what it’s like to experience the hard parts of life. No one knows that better than Liz Petrone.
As the owner and operator of Lizpetrone.com, she regularly blogged about her life in central New York. Never one to shy away from the personal, Liz talked frequently about her family and especially her kids. One recent post, however, really caught people’s attention.
Sharing deeply personal stories was exactly why Liz started her blog, so it wasn’t a surprise when she began posting about her son, Luca. It was when her readers learned all about the reason she drew a heart on his hand recently that they couldn’t help but feel moved…
Having battled mental health herself, Liz has openly blogged about postpartum depression, which she faced after giving birth to her third child. In her writing, she often stressed the integrity of National Postpartum Depression Awareness Month.
“We need to keep talking, even when we don’t want to, even when it’s unsightly or embarrassing or uncomfortable… Because one in eight women suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety following the birth of a child,” Liz’s post read. So what was the deal with that heart?
As an advocate of being open about mental health, it only made sense Liz would write about it when she noticed Luca beginning to exhibit signs of anxiety. With that, she blogged about one especially challenging time in his life.
As time progressed, Liz noticed that Luca’s anxiety had only increased; naturally, she began to post regularly about it. She’d hoped that, with the Christmas break fast approaching, Luca’s anxiety might subside—but it did not.
A few weeks later, while loading onto the school bus, Liz felt her son had reached a breaking point. When the bus pulled away, she could see him crying. She was unable to sit idly by any longer; something had to be done.
The following day, Liz was struck with an idea. Grabbing a pen, she took Luca’s wrist, kissed it, and marked the spot where her lips had touched his veins, where they share blood. Then, she drew a tiny heart in that spot…
“I know it’s hard sometimes out there—I want you to look at this heart every time it feels like too much,” Liz told Luca. “I want you to look, and I want you to remember that no matter what happens out there, someone is here waiting for you to come home. Someone loves you.”
As Luca got onto the bus, all he could do was stare at the heart on his wrist. “Maybe what we all need to remember is just that simple,” Liz wrote on Facebook. “Maybe it’s not a fix, not by a long shot, but it’s a comfort just the same, and comfort can go a long way when you know someone loves you.”
It wasn’t long before Liz’s post began to attract outside attention. The Facebook page “Love What Matters” shared her story, and soon, parents everywhere began to replicate her idea and share their own amazing stories with her.
“Thank you for this. My sweet first grader has a heart so big it cripples her at times. I have had to pick her up from school when it becomes too much,” one mom named Amanda Zapotochny replied. “I am looking forward to trying this tomorrow with her.”
Liz was stunned by the responses to her post. “Thank you so much for sharing this message, Love What Matters! To all my mamas (and papas) with anxious little ones, I feel you. Also, I swear these kids are going to change the world with their big hearts. We just gotta get them there,” she wrote.
Liz’s idea wasn’t the only one of its kind, either. A British mom named Louise Mallet had been doing something similar with her own son called the “hug button.” “I could tell he was feeling a little emotional this morning so we had a chat and came up with the idea of having a heart each and if we pressed it, it sent a hug to the other one,” she wrote online.
Louise’s son, Max, found great comfort in his little hug button. “I pressed it for a long time mummy, but I didn’t cry,” he once told her after school. Her story was then picked up by the Facebook page The Motherload, and soon parents everywhere were doing the same with their kids.
In another instance along these lines, one parent wrote on the Tamworth, U.K.-based Facebook page Relax Kids Tamworth: “My daughter gets quite anxious in various situations; one of them being on rainy days at school last year. As much as she was supported and reassured, she still struggled to cope.”
“I drew a heart and a sunshine on my hand and explained to my daughter that if I drew one on hers too, that at any time she felt sad or worried during the day she could look at it and know that I had one on my hand too,” the parent wrote. “My daughter’s tears literally turned into a smile immediately.”
Meanwhile, Liz continues to blog about Luca’s struggles with anxiety and mental health. “You are not alone. Even when it feels like it,” she recently stated. Hopefully, ideas like this one will help to comfort parents and kids everywhere!
It’s unfortunate to think of how many children suffer from anxiety. But hopefully with support from their families and others like them, they can get through their issues without a problem.
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