Admittedly, when I consider the word ‘love’ I think of the movies—in particular, the classics! Many of these older movies came with great love songs. One hit made popular in the early 1950s called “When I Fall in Love” suggests: And the moment I can feel that you feel that way too… is when I fall in love with you.
Although these might be great lyrics to sing, there are days when we simply don’t feel all that loving toward those around us. Therefore, defining true love based on feelings alone, as the song implies, just went out the door!
However, it turns out that there is something to this thing called love. In fact, the Bible speaks to it more than 500 times (depending on which version you’re reading). The topic of love is so important that the Bible teaches us in 1 John 4:8 that God is love. And in John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That says a huge amount regarding our heavenly Father’s loving care for us! No wonder love is considered a many-splendored thing. When God embodies it, love is far more than a feeling and so much bigger than we can humanly express!
All of this affirms that the feeling and action of love is something we definitely need to teach our children. It’s a characteristic of God that we want our family members to emulate. But how do we teach such an immense concept to young kids?
How To Teach Children About Love
The most effective discipleship relationship in your life is with those that you live with, and discipling your children happens to be the easiest way to teach them about love. Allow them to observe how you live, and take opportunities to engage them in intentional conversation about love.
Modeling. Demonstrate what love looks like. Parents are the primary influence of their children in all matters of life. Your children are listening and watching when you may not realize it! How you respond in your daily interactions makes a big impression on your children.
Communication. Intentional conversation, even with young children, is crucial. When kids are older, you may use words you’re accustomed to using as an adult. But with younger children, you may need to adapt your communication to fit their age and understanding. Consider talking with them about the following types of behavior in ways they comprehend:
Kindness. Young children can be taught to be thoughtful toward others in ways they share or take turns with toys. Kindness is also demonstrated as they learn to use pleasant words and gentle hands as they play together. 1 Corinthians 13:4 is a reminder that, “Love is kind.” Another great verse on this topic is, “A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17). Thoughtfulness toward others is a characteristic that we all practice regardless of our age!
Honesty. Talk with your children about the importance of being reliable in all they say and do as they relate to friends. When we keep our promises and show others that they can depend on our word, trust is built in those relationships. We learn this, too, from reading 1 Corinthians 13:6 where it says, “Love…rejoices with the truth.” Another Bible verse that’s easy for children to remember is, “Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). God is love. He is our ultimate model of a trustworthy, loving friend.
Children know this term simply as caring for the needs of those around them. This mindset and behavior starts early as young children help with simple tasks in the home. As children mature, show them opportunities for helping those outside the walls of your house, such as in your neighborhood. Helpfulness is a great way of showing genuine love to those around us!
As we demonstrate all these actions and feelings within our families and friendships we should keep in mind this biblical mandate: “Let us love one another, for love comes from God” (1 John 4:7-8). It’s a goal worthy of our attention at home with children as well as in our extended relationships.
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