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Showing Children How To Love: A Year-Round Gift

Teaching Our Children about Love

What is this thing called love, anyway? Can you imagine anything more abstract, more mysterious, for a child to figure out? Yet all of these memories are times when, as children, these people were taking in the fact and act of loving. As one of my teachers used to say, “Kids pick up the adults’ attitudes through the soles of their feet.” They know when there is anticipation, pleasure, affection, and warmth, even if few words are said. Kids who regularly see their parents and other adult couples loving each other are kids who are learning how to love on an almost cellular level. They are the lucky ones who will someday intuitively know how to be in a relationship.

Valentine’s Day gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk to our kids about what makes loving and being loved such a joyful part of the human experience. Flowers and cards, whether sentimental or goofy, are fun. I’m firmly of the opinion that we should take any excuse to have a party. But the stories make it clear that talking about it and eating chocolate are really optional. It’s the doing, the little gestures of togetherness, affection, respect, and just being interested in each other, that add up over time and develop a child’s internal sense of what makes love work. Our children look to us and see their futures. When we let them see us loving our partners, we are showing them that lasting love really is possible.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Showing Children How To Love: A Year-Round Gift

Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

Marie Hartwell-WalkerDr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. She writes regularly for Psych Central as well as Psych Central's Ask the Therapist feature. She is author of the insightful parenting e-book, Tending the Family Heart.

Check out her book, Unlocking the Secrets of Self-Esteem.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2018). Showing Children How To Love: A Year-Round Gift. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.