While you have been showering your children with love from the moment they were born, understanding the true meaning of love may be challenging for them. Teaching children about what love really entails helps them develop values such as empathy and kindness, as well as improves their relationship with the people around them.
Apart from role modelling acts of love to your child during the early years, you can also incorporate lessons on love through age-appropriate activities that promote this essential life value. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
1. Read stories on love
Add books that focus on love and friendship to your children’s bedtime story collection, as stories make great tools for explaining abstract concepts and emotions. Some great titles include “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney which illustrates the love of a parent towards his/her child while “Lost and Found” by Oliver Jeffers tells the tale of a boy who finds, then loses his penguin friend, making it a good story to tell your children and talk to them about the importance of love and friendship.
2. Make love-themed crafts
Get your child to express their love to their friends and family by making a love-themed hand-crafted item. Some ideas which you can start off with include:
For younger children, you can help them out with the cutting and writing of note to add that heartfelt touch to their handmade craft. This activity can be done any day, anytime and there’s no need to wait for a special occasion to get creative.
3. Giving back to the community
Encourage your child to show love and compassion beyond their circle of family and friends by extending it to the less fortunate in the community. The options for volunteer opportunities are plentiful and includes distributing packets of rice to needy old folks, serving meals at the Soup Kitchen, and donating their toys and clothes to the Salvation Army to help needy families. Through these initiatives, you can talk to your child about how he/she feels to spread love and happiness to those who in need.
4. Talk about the people your child has met
Among all the people whom your child has known up to today, get her to think back of the time she made a new friend. Ask her to tell you a few positive traits she noticed about this new friend, the series of events that led to them becoming friends and what she like most about him/her.
You can also talk about how we should love and accept everyone for who they are, although they may look and behave differently from us (e.g. speaking a different language, doing things differently or having physical challenges). To demonstrate this, you can carry out a simple role-playing exercise by taking turns to pretend that each of you are meeting a new friend for the first time, and how to show love to the other person.
5. Play a game of “Loving Charades”
As we show love in different ways to the people in our lives, it is important to teach your children the appropriate way to show their affection. You can do this by playing this game of “Loving Charades” where everyone take turns to come up with creative ways to show love to various people in different situations.
Here’s how the game is played:
- Get ready a stack of cards with loving actions written (e.g. Greeting someone, cheering up someone, offering a food/drink)
- Have some photos of people you know (e.g. family and friends) as well as strangers (you can use illustrations or stock images)
- Each person draws a card and a photo to act out the loving action to person without saying it out
- The rest will need to guess what the action is
This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.