Teach Your Child L-O-V-E Through Mindfulness
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” – Jack Kornfield
“I love you” gets thrown around a lot in our household. It is an apology, a goodbye, and a “time to go to bed, this conversation is over.” (haha…)
Around this Valentines Day, I was taken with what that phrase means and how mindfulness can help it gain more value within our home. I realized that, when we take a moment to be consciously aware of the word “love” and the enormity of it, it changes things.
Love towards your children is an all-encompassing, uncompromising, “I’ll jump in front of traffic for you” kind of love. It is love that we never knew existed until that child arrived in our arms for the first time. Right?
So, how do we teach our child about this enormous and generously-used term?
Here are some tips on how to use mindfulness (intentional awareness) to share the richness of love with your child.
Be intentional about how you use the phrase.
When you leave tomorrow morning for the day, before stepping out the door with a breezy, “love ya,” take a moment to sit with love. Imagine it is shining out of your heart like a beam of light, then take a breath, look at your child (or partner) and say “I love you” with intention and meaning.
Share love with your actions and communicate about this with your child.
Our actions translate just as much, if not more, to our children. When we exemplify acts of kindness and shine love when we can, we are making this a norm for our children and setting the foundation for them to continue this in their own life.
Take this a step further by communicating with your child about why we act kindly and share love. Why do we share a hug when a person is sad? Why do we give to those who need it? Why do we make it a priority to spend time as a family? Communicating these acts can help your child see and understand love in action.
Read books to your children about loving themselves and others.
There are so many wonderful resources and books about loving yourself and others, for all ages. Here are a few I love:
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal
I am Enough by Grace Byers
I am Human by Susan Verde
Reframe negative self-talk.
Very young children often express their inward feelings during play. So, listen closely to what they are acting out during this time. If you find your child is expressing a lot of words such as “I can’t” or “I won’t,” ask them about why they are using those words. Then, work with them to re-write the story so that the doll/figure can and does achieve what they set out to do. This can be done through empathizing with how the play figure feels (and, in reality, probably your child feels too) and then ask questions to help them get to the root of their feelings.
With older children, you might hear them saying negative things about their abilities or using words like “can’t,” “won’t,” or even “dumb” or “stupid” about their performance. When you hear this, work with them on reframing their view.
This blog has some great examples and tips to help you navigate negative self-talk. Mindfulness is a great tool to use to navigate this, as well. Intentionally pause for a moment with your child and talk through their feelings, emotions, or physiological sensations. “What do you feel in your body right now? What do you feel in your heart? What do you want to do when you feel this way?” These are all great questions to start the conversation. When you do this with your child, they begin to slow down and detach from the negative thoughts. Over time, these thoughts lose power and self-love and confidence take the driver seat. If they are too upset to discuss it as it is happening, wait and discuss once they are calmer and willing to talk.