Types of love kids experience throughout their childhood
Love is a feeling that is, generally, associated strictly with romantic relationships. However, love can be experienced by children in a lot of different social relationships and in a lot of different ways. Help us spread gratitude to our community by teaching children about the different types of love and how to express them.
Kids are exposed to love since the day they are born. In their first years of age, children start making connections with a lot of people from different areas of their lives (such as school or family). Therefore, children will experience a lot of different types of love in a small matter of time.
Knowing and understanding how these types of love differ is important because each will affect children in distinct ways, giving them different experiences and nurturing different areas of their development. It is also essential for families to help children maneuver the feelings that these types of love awaken since, in some cases, they might be new and confusing.
Let’s learn about love together! The following are the main types of love a child can experience throughout their childhood:
This is the type of love the Ancient Greeks named Philautia. Self love is one of the healthiest types of love a child can experience. As the name suggests, this type of love entails loving and accepting oneself, recognising self worth, acknowledging your own needs and taking care of them. It can require a lot of work but it is important for kids to develop self love because it will have a direct impact on the children’s physical and mental health. Moreover, self love is the basis of all types of love. If a child is able to practice self love, they will understand healthy love and will incorporate it in all their other relationships.
How can children learn about and practice self love
Some of the ways a child can express self love are:
- Being confident in themselves, their abilities and beliefs. An example of this could be trying out new hobbies or wearing the clothes that make them feel nice.
- Expressing themselves without fear, telling their families and peers exactly how they feel and how the things they do make them feel will be the base of building healthy relationships.
- Celebrating all their achievements. Children should be happy for everything they accomplish, no matter how small. Having the family celebrate little moments of their life such as the first time they tied their shoes or the first time they completed a chore will help children understand that celebrating their achievements is something that they should do.
- Surround themselves with people who support them. Families can encourage children to think about their friendships. That way they will learn to value their self-worth and understand when they are not happy with certain friends. If that happens, the family should let the child know that it is okay to part from those friends that don’t make them happy.
Family or familial love is the type of love the Ancient Greeks called Storge. Children will feel this type of love with family members with whom they share constant or stable contact or even with best friends. Familial love is immediate when it comes to close family relationships (such as parents and children) and it is encouraged by deep emotional connection. This type of love is considered to be infinite, and sometimes, impossible to lose. Experiencing familial love will improve the quality of life of any children, as they will be supported in every moment of their lives, good or bad. It’s also important to note that most children learn by imitating others. Therefore, familial love will play an important role in the children’s future acceptance and expression of love.
How can children learn about and practice familial love
Some of the ways children can express or experience familial love are:
- Expressing forgiveness. Children should be able to forgive their parents or siblings when something goes wrong but, to learn that, children will need to experience forgiveness first. As families, we need to teach children the meaning and the importance of saying sorry.
- Compromising. Living with other people means having to understand the needs of anyone around us. Therefore, children will need to understand that sometimes they have to compromise their preferences in favor of the preferences of others, even if that means letting their little sibling eat the last dessert.
- Showing gratitude. Children can express their gratitude in simple ways such as saying thank you to their family members after they do something for them. As families, we need to teach children how essential it is to say “thank you”.
Friend or platonic love
This is the type of love the Ancient Greeks named as Philia. Friend love is based on the feeling of affection without any romantic interest. It normally occurs between children that share interests, values and opinions. These types of friendships generate a deep sense of respect towards one another. This type of love is important as children will learn to manage their own expectations towards peers, learn how to trust others and will be the foundation of healthy relationships.
How can children learn about and practice platonic love
Some of the ways children can express or experience platonic love are:
- Being loyal. When creating friendships children will soon understand the importance of trust. Being loyal to their friends will manifest in them not telling on their best friends, prioritising play time with their best friends and never speaking evil of them.
- Being supportive. Children need to both support their friends and also feel supported. That might mean going to each other’s football matches, music recitals or helping them with school.
- Having empathy. Empathy is key for a long lasting relationship. Children need to be patient, listen to their friends’ wants and needs in order to be able to be supportive and loyal. Understanding the feelings of their friends will be one of the most important ways children will be able to connect with other peers.
With this type of love, we refer to a toned down version of what the Ancient Greek named Eros, Ludus and Pragma. Children don’t experience romantic love in the same way teenagers or adults do. Children that experience romantic love do it in the form of crushes, infatuation or general “liking”. Children's romantic love is rarely passionate but mostly idyllic. Romantic love will be important for children in their older years since it promotes acceptance and support by someone outside of the family bond. It will also have a direct impact on the children’s confidence and self-esteem.
How can children learn about and practice romantic love
Children can express romantic love in different ways:
- Physical affection, such as hugs and kisses.
- Words of appreciation. Expressing affection verbally is another way children have to show their interest and love for another person. They will do so through expressions like “you’re smart”, “you’re beautiful” or “you’re funny” .
- Quality time. When children have some type of romantic interest in a peer, even if it is innocent, they will want to spend time with that person, mostly play time. As the children grow older, they will want to start sharing meals with them, going to the cinema or going to the arcade.
Selfless love (commonly referred to as Agape by the Ancient Greeks) is what we consider Community love. This type of love is considerate and it’s based on kindness. Selfless love entails children loving the community they are surrounded by or anyone else no matter the circumstances. It is considered to be the highest form of love since it has no expectations and it requires nothing in return.
Developing this type of love is important for children to understand concepts such as empathy or compassion.
Furthermore, selfless love will reduce the chances of children being afraid of or hate anything or anyone that is different or unknown making the future world a more accepting place.
How can children learn about and practice selfless love
Some of the ways children can express selfless love are:
- Charity work and support social causes. Children are too small to do these by themselves. Therefore, as families, involving the kids in social causes we are passionate about (in non-invasive ways) is a good way of letting them discover and understand concepts such as sustainability or social injustice.
- Empathy. By researching, listening and understanding different points of view, children will be able to accept that not everyone has the same opinion and will value different points of view.
- One really good example as to how children can express selfless love is the way they, as a group, started to paint posters with the rainbow during the first lockdown in many countries (such as Italy or Spain) as a way of expressing gratitude and empathy towards health workers.
All in all, love leads to positive feelings, hence the importance of constructing healthy relationships with our surroundings since early ages.
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