Families and ...




Managing Time





The Teen Years





Show, Just Don't Tell—
Learning Affection and Love

The family has the responsibility for keeping young children safe, providing love and helping all their children to learn to get along with people. The most important beginning is the development of trust. The infant needs to know that there is someone who cares and provides for his or her needs. Holding and cuddling is a physical need.

Each person in the family has a need for love and affection. Each person also has the responsibility to show love and affection to other people in the family. The way you show love can be different for different people. What one child feels is loving might be felt as disturbing by a different child. For example, some toddlers love to be held often, while other toddlers love to be chased and only held for a little bit. Each person's individual needs should be respected. It is your responsibility to be an understanding and sensitive person.

There are different ways to show young children affection and love. It is easy to tell when it is straightforward, a hug or kiss, or the words, "I love you." Other ways a person might show love is through actions—playing together, singing songs, or bringing something special home. Young children respond better to demonstrating love. Use words to describe love with action. In this way the feelings are clear and not misunderstood.

Young children feel affection and care through direct contact and attention. It is hard to feel important if everyone seems to be too busy to care about what is important to the child: new discoveries, the bath, changing diapers, and food, just to name a few.

Showing love also means guiding the actions of young children. As young children grow more independent, the people responsible need to understand these growing skills. The family needs to love enough to hold in, and love enough to let go. But as important as it is to allow children the freedom to explore and be themselves, it is important to set limits for children. Clearly express to your child what is acceptable behavior in all sorts of daily situations.

Respect the child's self-esteem, the child's sense of worth, by being firm, but kind. Maintain control of yourself and your emotions. Remember how important your child is to you. Combine your intuition and your intelligence to demonstrate love and affection, by showing and telling.

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