Posted on February 08 2022
Let your child see how you show your love for each other through affectionate gestures like G-rated pecks on the cheek.
As your child grows, they begins to form ideas about romantic relationships from watching adults, you, and through the media. Toddlers and preschoolers might equate being close to someone as romantic love. Hence, they might declare they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, want to marry a parent or have a crush on another adult. Here are some ways you can explain and demonstrate the concepts of love and romance to your little ones.
Keep the Explanation Simple
Try these books to give your child some insight into love.
When explaining love to your child, keep it simple. Explain that love is about caring about someone or something, taking care of them and keeping them safe, e.g., how parents care for their children. Tell them that loving someone means you care about them as much as yourself, and you want the best for them, and will make sacrifices for them.
In particular, talk to them about romantic love, usually between two adults, or parents. Some ways that parents can show romance are in how they treat each other. For example, doing chores that your spouse prefers not to do, getting or making a gift for him. You can add that it’s also why parents sometimes need alone time or go out without them for date nights. Additionally, let your child know that different people express their love in various ways. These include touch, words, service, gifts and time.
Love in Actions
Let your child show their affection for their family members by making jewellery, pottery or other such gifts.
Another way to help them understand the concept is to link it to a physical experience. Give them a hug and ask them how they feel. Explain that feeling good or happy are some special feelings related to love. Add that we can express love through the things we do every day, such as hugging, making dinner or doing the laundry. Try expressing this concept through physical actions, such as playing or listening to them, making their favourite foods and ensuring they are cared for.
Make this concept a little more concrete by giving specific examples of what they do in their daily life to show love. For example, keeping dangerous items away from their younger sibling or taking care of their pets. Additionally, ask them to come up with ways to show family members or friends their love. Some ideas might be to make a card, get a gift or video call them.
Following in Your Footsteps
Let your child learn about the family members and friends who love them by showing them their pictures in a photo album - or from your phone.
As mentioned above, your child develops their notions of what romantic love is from watching you interact with your spouse. Qualities of healthy relationships they can discover include acceptance, friendship, affection, gratitude, sharing responsibilities and resolving conflicts. These can help influence your child’s behaviour and also their choice of a future life partner, many many years down the road.
Demonstrating your love for each other doesn’t have to be in big, drama-worthy gestures, but in sharing responsibilities in parenting and around the home. This shows your child that both of you are contributing members of the household and may inspire them to help out too.
Other Activities to Show Love
Point out family members and friends in photos who love them and whom they loves. Relate this back to your family and show them that love can be limitless, so they know that you can love them and their siblings without limits. Other options include inventing a Love Dance, which is also a great way to spend quality time with your child. Otherwise, let your child create a sign meaning “I love you”. In the Singapore Sign Language, you first point to yourself, cross your arms over your chest, hands in fists, and then point to your recipient.
Model Unconditional Love
When your little one has a tantrum, stay by their side and comfort them until they stop crying - this shows them that they are worthy of your love.
Between Parent and Child
Inevitably, your child will act out and have tantrums, which is a great time to model unconditional love for them. Understand that this is when your child needs your help to regulate their emotions. Stay calm, then rub their back, hug or snuggle, or just wait and let them know you’re there for them. Resist the impulse to ask questions as your child is unlikely to be able to think logically or rationally. Staying beside your child during this time lets your child know that they are worthy of your affection. You can also tell them that you love them even when they are behaving badly.
Most importantly, when you fight as a couple, try as much as possible to do it calmly and productively. Thus, your child will see that adults can disagree but cooperate to resolve their differences. Avoid rage, name calling, bringing up past fights or shaming. You’ll also want to include an apology and hug. If you’ve been less than saintly, reassure your child that adults disagree sometimes, even loudly, but still love each other - and them - very much.
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