How Children may learn to Love
(The Freeman) - May 20, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Every first and third Tuesday of the month, at 10:30 a.m., we meet in with some light snacks and a short story time for little children. Grownups are also given handouts, and discuss various topics on children’s health and wellness.

In one February, the topic was “Love.” We discussed how being loved and loving others back was essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development.  We discussed about how grownups and kids understand, respect and care for each other, especially within the family.

1. When do babies start to understand love and affection?

Babies, including newborns, are very sensitive to love and affection.  Holding them, smiling at them, singing a song, feeding them, and changing diapers – these sometimes feel like part of the routine for grownups. However, every nurturing care is a sign of love for babies who are new to this world.

2. How do babies show their love and affection? 

Babies under eight months old show their love in a more subtle way. They might stare at you and smile, even just for a split second, or they might cry when you hand them over to your friends’ arms.

Does the baby sometimes try to touch your face (especially nose) or even other baby-friends’ faces? Babies are trying to figure out other people and their emotions, which are often shown in facial expressions. This curiosity about others is also a stage of love and affection.

3.  Love is learned from getting “just enough.”

Even if you love children unconditionally, there may always be some difficult moments. Maybe the child has been inconsolably crying for more than an hour; maybe the child throws a temper tantrum that drives you crazy. Dealing with a young child is filled with smiles, but also with tears and frustration that grownups and other kids may not find as “loving.” Will those moments make the child unloving? The answer is no. These moments are important for every child to learn boundaries, and boundaries teach children to care about others.

4. Give words to feelings.

Understanding emotions helps children understand others. When a child pushes another child, one may ask the child, “Let’s check if she is okay,” instead of asking the child to say sorry.  Even though children should be taught to be able to apologize, it is more important to learn how others feel because of what the child does. Parents can also state their feelings and make a connection to an event by saying, “You just made mommy really happy because you put away your toys in the box!” ( Saki Iwamoto

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