What Love Means to a Toddler
Someone just sent me an email about what love means to a toddler.
The message said that a group of children was asked, “What does love mean?” and the email gave their answers, which were wiser and deeper than I could have ever imagined. I was also amazed at their high level of self-esteem and confidence.
Take just a few minutes and read what the kids said. See what you think:
Four-year-old Billy said: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
‘”Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired,” said Albert, a 5-year old.
And Mary Ann, who is also five, said ‘”Love is when your puppy licks your face, even after you left him alone all day.”
But here is my favorite from a 4-year-old who had an elderly next door neighbor. This man had recently lost his wife and when he noticed that the man was crying, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap and just sat there.
When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy answered: “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
These remarks show how little children are not only wise and sympathetic but also show an obvious sense of good self-esteem. And your preschooler’s self-esteem is very important because it lays the foundation for your child’s future.
Your goal is to ensure that your child develops pride and self-respect — in himself and in his cultural roots — as well as faith in his ability to handle life’s challenges.
Here are some ways to help boost your child’s self-esteem:
Pay attention. Carve out time to give your preschooler your undivided attention. That does wonders for your child’s self-worth because it sends the message that you think he’s important and valuable. Make eye contact so it’s clear that you’re really listening to what he’s saying.
Teach limits. Establish a few reasonable rules for your preschooler. For instance, if you tell him to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket, don’t say it’s okay to pile them on the floor. Knowing that certain family rules are set in stone will help him feel more secure.
Support healthy risks. Encourage your child to explore something new, such as trying a different food, finding a best pal, or riding a bike.
Celebrate the positive. Everyone responds well to encouragement, so make an effort to acknowledge the good things your child does every day within his earshot.
Resist comparisons. Comments such as “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” or “Why can’t you be nice like Peter?” will just remind your child of where he struggles in a way that fosters shame, envy, and competition.
And please don’t forget to laugh with your children and encourage them to laugh at themselves. If you or your child take yourselves too seriously, you won’t enjoy your day-to day experiences with each other. A good sense of humor and the ability to make light of things that happen in your life are important ingredients to be happy!