This article first appeared on The Good Men Project and has been republished with permission.
Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Love is a beautiful feeling that makes people happy. Anyone who has a loved one has felt the strong, undeniable impact of love on their decisions throughout life. In many cases, love changed lives and helped people to achieve incredible things they wouldn’t have achieved without it. However, when most parents are faced with the task of explaining love to their children, they struggle.
“Okay, this is tricky….”
“Wow, I don’t really know how to explain it…”
“I don’t think you ever have to explain love to a child….”
“I don’t believe children require explanation…”
These are the most common answers of adults who are asked to explain love to children. But how reasonable these answers are? Do children really need to know about love?
Well, adults often forget that love is the feeling that made them go above and beyond for their loved ones. Then what is wrong with explaining this beautiful feeling to children, right?
Let’s learn how to explain to your child what love is in this article so you can see how easy it is.
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The Definition of Love, As Told by ChildrenA recent article described the results of a fascinating (although no scientific) survey that aimed to reveal the definition of love as given by children. The survey involved a group of 4 to 8-year old kids who were asked the question, “What does love mean?” The answers given by the children were priceless. For example, one of the kids said that love is when the two people kiss all the time, and when they get tired, they still want to be together and talk. Another kid answered by saying that love is what makes one smile when one is tired. The kids have a pretty solid foundation in understanding that love is first and foremost about caring for someone, which can be reinforced by the parents.
How to Teach Your Child about Love — Techniques
Show Your Love for Environment
This activity is aimed to show kids that love is a feeling that goes beyond personal relationships. For example, you can organize activities commonly used to celebrate Earth Day like collecting recyclable items at home and cleaning trash and say that one can show love to everyone and everything around us.
Make a List of Loved Ones
This is an activity that involves making a list of parents, siblings, other family members, and friends. Create this list together and discuss why you love every person there. Thus, you’ll help the child realize that family is the most important thing in the world and that love is endless to receive and give.
Talk about Loving Qualities
“To teach how to identify loving qualities, you can ask your child to remember a time when they met someone and what positive qualities they noticed about that person,” says educator Samantha Harper. “This person could be a teacher or a family friend. Explain why these people demonstrate qualities like love. Certainly, you can discuss some negative qualities as well to show the difference between good people and bad people.”
How to Teach Your Child about Love (Scenarios)
To make sure you have a good explanation for love, we have prepared a number of typical scenarios where you might need it along with responses.
Scenario #1: Your child describes someone from their class as “sexy”
Children now are exposed to various media and tend to pick up some words that are not necessarily associated with love. For example, after listening to a song on YouTube, they may adopt words such as “hot” or “sexy” and think they are appropriate to say to someone they like.
If you noticed that your kid has picked up words like these, your job is to explain that they have nothing to do with love. You can say that they are used by grown-ups to refer to other grown-ups and may not necessarily mean love.
Instead of saying “sexy,” you can recommend complimenting others on admirable qualities, like being a good friend.
Scenario #2: Your child says they have a boyfriend/girlfriend
While this sounds like a big moment, don’t get too excited just yet. The first thing you need to do is to ask the child what they meant by that because many children do not understand what a healthy relationship is. For some kids, especially girls, sitting together at lunch or having a good conversation on a class trip already means love.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with your child having a friend, but you should try to explain that love is when one person really cares about the other. At that point, your child may even want an exclusive relationship with that friend, which may be a bad idea. Let them be friends but intervene immediately when the friendship becomes too possessive or exclusive.
The Bottom Line
Is explaining love to your child that difficult? Of course not. While it requires some effort on your part, it’s certainly worth it. Love is a wonderful character trait, so it should be learned to improve their well-being and the quality of relationships they have.
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