As part of the ongoing A to Z Parenting tips, last week we looked at Teaching children kindness read more as a lifestyle. This week we look at how parents can teach children to show love.
Children learn more about how to give and receive love from what we do than from anything we could ever tell them. The common saying ‘actions speak louder than words‘ is one that is especially relevant since love is an expression that deals more in actions that with words.
Remind Them you Love Them Daily
Always take a note of reminding your children everyday that you love them both in your words and actions till they are consciously and unconsciously aware of it. While some African parents might believe that showing too much love to your child, might give room for disrespect; this is a wrong belief, as love is a vital part of the nurturing process.
We encourage you to be open with them about how you feel about them. When your child has been naughty and you need to discipline him, take the time to explain why in love. Expressions of love, does not only come in the form of money or material gifts but a hug, a quick rub on the head, an encouraging word are all ways to express your love to your child.
Teach them to Always Put Others First
Children need to be taught to put others first, and learn empathy this way. They need to take into consideration the emotions of the person they are dealing with. Certain questions should become second nature such as, “how will my actions affect the other person?”, “what I am about to say to this person – is it kind, considerate and thoughtful?” The ability to put others first builds compassion in the child. [Read: Teach Your Children Empathy]
Avoid Speaking Bad and Gossiping
The side effects of gossip and speaking badly about people are not only damaging but have negative lasting effects on the child’s attitude in relating to others. The funniest thing about gossip is that children over-hear it all the time. They are soaking it all in when they hear things like
- “Mrs Asa is too fat, that is why her husband is dating another woman and her home is falling apart!”
- “Risi ( the housemaid) behaves so stupid, I wonder if she has any common sense left in her brains!
When children are constantly exposed to a stream of negative words in the form of gossip, they learn to be judgemental of other people. Let’s be very careful of the way we speak in front of our children and strive to make the home a gossip-free zone.
Give Them Your Unconditional Love
We must always learn to love our children unconditionally. Do not be guilty of loving children based on conditions and circumstances. Do not only praise and love that child when they make you happy but on the flip side show such displeasure and use harsh words when the behaviour is not as expected. Love for your children should never be based on conditions.
We should at no point in time withhold love or attention from our children as a means of punishing them. Your children will only give out what has been given to them and will show unconditional love to others if they themselves have received it.
Show Them Respect And How to Give it to Others
When we show respect in the way we relate with others (this includes our domestic workers), will go a long way in influencing the way your child treats others. Showing love goes hand in hand with respect. Teaching them not to interrupt when others are talking and respecting the unique and individual opinions of others, is a way of showing love and respect.
Expressing thanks for help rendered or when someone does something shows that we have respect for the person in question. Our children will naturally pick up behaviour traits they see in us, and also relate with others in the same way, children should be taught from home to show gratitude and say thank you.
Teach them About God
Teach your children the ultimate on love which is about the life of Jesus Christ. There is no greater example recorded in history of a love so selfless and sacrificial. What better role model to put forth for your children than God who showed love in its purest form. We can only give what we have. As parents show yourselves as a good example for the sake of your children.