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How to teach them what love means
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February 13, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

Valentine´s Day is celebrated on the 14th of February and since it´s right around the corner, it made us wonder if it´s possible to teach our children what love is. Love goes beyond the romantic idea that fairy tales portray and storybooks make us believe. To love is to show our respect, care and understanding of the people who are important to us, whether it´s our partner, family or friends. It´s not a matter of giving or buying material things, but love entails giving ourselves to others. And that implies cultivating empathy. In order for our children to learn to love and build long lasting social relationships, they must first acquire and cultivate an emphatic behaviour. But how to they learn to do this?

The best way to teach our children what love is, is by being good role models. Parents are their main reference in their life so we are the ones who must show them how to love. If we show them our love, they will do the same. Small gestures and words can help us do just that.

Being conscious of others needs is truly complicated for some children. Kids are selfish by nature so we must show them how to enjoy giving to others. If they refuse letting their siblings play with their toys, for example, talk to them about the benefits of sharing. “Isn´t it more fun to play together and not separately? Make her realize that letting her brother play with one of her PinyPon toys, she´ll be able to play with one of his Mutant Buster action figures.

It´s important to encourage they communicate. Children needs to talk about what they feel and understand what the other one´s needs are. When siblings argue, don´t just try to find a solution, encourage them to say why they think the other is being unjust with them and how they can come to an agreement that both are OK with.

This also applies to you. If your partner hasn´t washed the dishes, for example, tell him or her that you´ll do it. Children need to see that it´s OK to help others do things they don´t like or haven’t had the time to do so. Being part of a team is key to a healthy relationship.

Building Trust

A good relationship is based on trust. Knowing that you can count on the other person even though he or she might not even ask for help. Love is shown through gestures and these gestures sometimes teach more than words. It´s not only a question of saying: “I love you” or “You are my best friend”. We need to prove it.

A good example of this are promises. If a friend has asked him to keep a secret, he or she must keep the promise. Just by having been asked should make the child feel special. If the child is able to keep the secret, he´ll be proving his love to his friend and this will make the relationship stronger and long lasting.

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Respect

Jut as we wrote about in our post titled “Teaching our Kids t be Respectful“, the first and main thing we must do to teach them how to respect others is by staying calm in a stressful situation. If your children speak to you, other family members or their friends using harsh words or a loud tone of voice, stop them immediately and tell them that behaviour is simply not acceptable. Even though you might think what they said is funny or ingenious, don´t laugh about it because they´ll get the wrong message.

If your children behave badly with others, you might want to ask yourself why. Have they learned it from their peers, from you perhaps? We know how hard it is to contain our frustration or anger and that can lead to arguments at home. So if we don´t act accordingly, how can we expect our children to do the same? If you´re stuck in the middle of an argument, the best thing to do is walk away for a while, calm down and then have a conversation and discuss what happened.

If your partner says things like: “You don´t know how to do it”, You´re boring” or You always make mistakes” in front of the children, it´s best to set some limits. If not, your children will learn to accept that kind of behaviour and not defend themselves. Or even worse, they´ll learn that it´s OK for them to mistreat others.

Tender, Loving, Care

Often times we repress our feelings in front of our children but then we expect them to express their feelings to us. They are more spontaneous than we are when it comes to not being afraid of showing our vulnerable side but if they don´t witness their parents expressing their love and feelings, children will not learn how to do it.

You might show your children your tender loving care but if you don´t show your partner, they´ll probably become used to receiving but not knowing how to give love. We should love them as much as possible and let them show their love.  Remember there is never a limit to how many kisses or hugs we can give each other.

What do you think after reading this? Is it possible for us to teach them love?

Photo Credits: Rachel Wilder

Photo Credits: Famosa

 

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