We all experience so many different types of love. In the first few years of their lives, children will experience all sorts of love in a very small space of time. Talking about love and how we differentiate it is really important! But we believe that all types of love are equal.
The first love most babies and toddlers will experience is familial love. This can be instant, such as with parents, or it can grow, such as with older family members and even best friends. It is typically defined by a constant or stable connection, where children are able to grow and learn. Familial love is where children learn to express forgiveness, to compromise, and show gratitude among a whole host of other relationship skills.
As well as familial love, babies and toddlers will begin to feel platonic love when they start mixing with other children. It tends to occur when children have stuff in common, such as similar interests, values, or opinions. This type if love breeds loyalty, respect, being supportive, and having empathy.
Platonic love is important as it helps children to socialise in the future. They begin to manage their expectations towards others and learn how to trust people. This helps children gain the foundations to form healthy relationships in the future.
Children don’t experience romantic love on the same level teenagers and adults do; it is rarely passionate and more based on idealism. It is usually expressed in the form of crushes, infatuation, or general “liking”. It only really grows in importance when children get older and their feelings become more serious.
Community or selfless love is something that is based on kindness. It centres on children having love and respect for those around them, regardless of who they are. This type of love in particular is important for children to understand empathy, and avoids children developing any fears or hatred towards anyone or anything that is different or unknown to them. It means they will be more accepting, which is a beautiful quality to have.
Finally, children will experience self-love. This is really important to nurture, particularly when all other forms of love involve projecting outwards. Loving themselves allows children to be more confident. It also impacts their other relationships, as they will respect themselves more and want to be treated fairly.
You can encourage self love by helping your child learn to express themselves without any fear of reprimand or ridicule. Another way to teach self love is to celebrate all of your child’s achievements, whether they are big or small. By doing these things, you allow your child to build up a sense of self.
This Valentines Day, remember to talk to your children about all types of love, as all love is as important as romantic love.