HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR CHILD’S SENSE OF LOVING AND CARING FROM AN EARLY AGE
By: Luh Putu Yeni Aristianti
Love is at the core of the human being and an essential part of our human experience. Nurturing love both at home and at school helps children thrive. Educators are valued and prized by untold millions around the world as providers of not only knowledge but love, and creators of nurturing, caring and safe places to learn. While caring and kindness are always part of love, in some cultures it is easier to talk about love by using the word “caring”. Please feel free to use the word that you feel is most appropriate for your culture or the culture of the young people with whom you work. Research in human development clearly shows that the seeds of empathy, caring, and compassion are present from early in life, but that to become caring, ethical people, children need adults to help them at every stage of childhood to nurture these seeds into full development.
We should work to cultivate children’s concern for others because it’s fundamentally the right thing to do, and also because when children can empathize with and take responsibility for others, they’re likely to be happier and more successful. They’ll have better relationships their entire lives, and strong relationships are a key ingredient of happiness. In today’s workplace, success often depends on collaborating effectively with others, and children who are empathic and socially aware are also better collaborators. Children learn caring and respect when they are treated that way. When our children feel loved, they also become attached to us. That attachment makes them more receptive to our values and teaching. Loving our children takes many forms, such as tending to their physical and emotional needs, providing a stable and secure family environment, showing affection, respecting their individual personalities, taking a genuine interest in their lives, talking about things that matter, and affirming their efforts and achievements.
You may try these strategies to develop your child’s sense of loving and caring from an early age:
Tell your child that:
♦ Love is caring.
♦ Love is sharing.
♦ Love is being kind.
♦ I am good. I am love. All children have love inside.
♦ We are always connected to everyone we love.
♦ Love means I want what is good for me.
♦ Love means I want what is good for others.
♦ Safe adults are loving and want what is good for me.
♦ Love makes me feel safe.
♦ When there are lots of love inside, anger runs away.
Regular time together.
Plan regular, emotionally intimate time with your children. You may do this through nightly bedtime reading or other shared activities. Some build one-on-one time with their children into their weekly schedules rather than leaving it to chance. You might, for example, spend one Saturday afternoon a month with each of your children doing something you both enjoy.
Whenever you have time with your child, take turns asking each other questions that bring out your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Ask questions such as:
“What was the best part of your day? The hardest part?”
“What did you accomplish today that you feel good about?”
“What’s something nice someone did for you today? What’s something nice you did for someone?”
“What’s something you learned today—in school or outside of school?”
Make the most of everyday activities
Daily activities like bath time, nappy changing, mealtimes and dressing are opportunities to connect with your child in a meaningful way. You could give your child cuddles, catches and tickles during nappy changes or bath time. On your way to the shops or school you could take a few minutes to point out something that might interest them. These interactions with your child don’t have to take up much time but they can make a real difference.
· Let your child know that you still love them, even when you don’t like what they do.
Make sure your child knows it’s the behaviour – not them – you don’t like. Rather than saying “You are a naughty boy for hitting me”. It is better to say “I don’t like it when you hit me. It hurts and makes me sad”.
Consider making expressing gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Encourage children to express appreciation for family members, teachers, or others who contribute to their lives.
Your loving interactions with your child are critical for your child’s happiness, confidence, healthy development and learning. If you have a warm, loving and affectionate relationship with your child it will help them feel safe and secure. This sense of security is known as bonding or attachment. When children feel secure they are more likely to be happy and be able to handle conflicts and anger. If your child feels secure they are more likely to be curious and start exploring, which will help them develop well.