All About Love
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching I though it would be a good time to talk about love and how we can teach children about it.
What do children know about love?
I asked my son what he knew about love and he said, “I love Batman and I love you, but not Joker as he is scary”. This tells me that even at a young age he has a concept that love is good, that love makes you feel good.
I have heard and read countless answers by loads of different children to the question above and they all seem to follow very similar themes and reflect the love between two people (often parental or romantic).
Why is love important?
Love is something which is incredibility important for every living creature, experiments like Harlow’s monkeys have shown us that we all (even monkeys) value love and comfort above food and sustenance. This true even for plants, a recent experiment showed that plants who were shown love and appreciation flourished and bloomed but plants that were abused and neglected withered and died.
Love is important for our overall health and wellbeing, regardless of whether we are human, animal, or plant.
How to teach children about love
The number one way to teach children about love is to show them, children learn the most by watching the world around them. If they see you showing love, affection, respect, and appreciation then they themselves will show those things. Do not be afraid to tell them you love them, to hug them, to tell them that they make you proud.
Yes, you should discipline your children when they do something wrong, but also let them know when they are doing something right.
There are other ways, the plant experiment I mentioned above was done to teach children about bullying, but there are other ways you can teach about love which does not involve bullying a plant. An easy thing you can do is talk to them, ask your child what they know about love, ask them how they like to show love/ be shown love. Explain to them that it is important to show love to everything, including animals, plants, even their toys.
Another good activity is explaining the different ways we can show love. As well as saying I love you or giving someone a hug or kiss, we also show love by helping people, by giving or making people things, and by being there for them when they need us the most.
We show love by doing things for people which makes them feel good and lets them know that we care.
The opposite of love
Whilst teaching children about love it is important not to hide the opposite of love, hate. I do not advocate showing children’s examples of hate, you can, however, have a conversation about things people do that make you feel sad, like calling you names, not sharing toys, hitting/ kicking/ being unkind.
You do not have to go into great detail about some of the hateful and nasty things people are capable of, but you can explain the opposite in a way which will be relatable to them and how doing hateful or nasty things make people feel.