Updated: Jul 11, 2018
Young children enjoy the book ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ and when they are little, parents might constantly talk to them about this incredible feeling, just as the book suggests. But, do we continue to teach children what love is as they grow and why love is at the centre of life? Do we model self-love or loving communication?
As children’s needs develop so does our care for them; once school starts we spend less time together and increasingly show our love through actions. We try to ensure that our children are happy at school, enjoy a healthy social life and create opportunities for learning new skills through clubs, hobbies and adventures. Somewhere along the way those gentle conversations about how much we love them perhaps turn into a perfunctory ‘I love you’ rather than a whole bedtime story devoted to our feelings.
Love is the first thing we hope to give our children when they enter our world and is fundamental to developing a healthy and happy planet. For our society to become more environmentally sustainable we need to demonstrate care for nature, challenging social injustice requires compassion for those who are suffering, creating peaceful communities entails love for the world.
During wellbeing sessions at Routes of Life we explore the many sides of love and take a journey into deep conversations about how it feels and why this vital energy is essential for life. Most of all children discover the importance of loving themselves. I am always moved by the wisdom of children and they never fail to share creative metaphors for describing this mysterious force....
The children I work with know they are loved but often they have never reflected on self-love. Outside of family life these young people are receiving regular messages about love from films, lyrics and books. In these contexts, songs, fairy tales and movies, love can be found or lost. The notion that it is something we need to seek and depends on the feelings of others, suggests we require another person to make us happy.
In our sessions we consider what it means to care for ourselves and how important this is in becoming a fulfilled human being. We discuss the social pressures around self-image and the myth that consumerism will help our self-worth. We explore the importance of solitude and how individuals need time alone to listen to their intuition, to experience mindfulness and bring awareness to their bodies. Our bodies hold our emotions and tension can be released through movement, breath-work and other relaxation techniques which we practise.
Young children express their feelings through play and sudden changes in their behaviour can sometimes mean they are trying to navigate strong emotions. In our wellbeing workshops children learn how to communicate these emotions in a confident manner and how to embrace all the different moods they may experience. Participants learn strategies for understanding their inner worlds so that they can try to accept and face challenges, create safe boundaries and process experiences healthily.
Telling children to hurry up for school, tidy their room or get on with their homework all comes from a place of love but it is important to remind yourself of the days when you simply read books like Guess How Much I Love You together.
Remember to talk to your children about how you love them and about the different forms of love. Explore how they can learn to love themselves and others. You are your child’s greatest teacher, your presence and guidance is central to their wellbeing and whatever you model they will absorb.
Top tips to share with the whole family
Start the day with gratitude
Find joy in everyday tasks
Listen to your body
Ask your child what they love about themselves
Feelings can be explored through story and ‘Storyworld’ is a beautifully made storytelling kit for creating new tales.
Discussion starters helping young people learn how to express feelings.
Make some story stones for your child’s stories to emerge.
Cards to help shift feelings and explore new ways of seeing life’s challenges