Regardless of the not-so-realistic gush we see on TV, there is something to this thing called love!

In fact, the Bible mentions ‘love’ close to 500 times. No wonder this topic is so important to the Creator of love; we read in 1 John 4:8 that God is love! And in John 3:16 we’re reminded of the Lord’s phenomenal outpouring of love for us when 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.”

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!

Is love just an adult emotion?

Although immense and something difficult to describe, the feeling and action of love is something we definitely need to teach our children. It’s a characteristic of God we want our family members to emulate. But how do we teach such an vast concept to young kids?

Something to keep in mind is that as children are growing physically, they’re also developing in their emotional health. After all God created our feelings, but He gives parents the opportunity to guide children in proper ways of dealing with emotions—including that of love.

Easy ways parents can teach children about genuine love:

Modeling appropriately

Demonstrate what love looks like. Parents are the primary influence of their children in all matters of life, so staying on a healthy track of relating to others around us is important for children to observe. Remember, they’re listening when you may not realize it! They’re watching your reactions when others may not be showing respect or love toward you. How you respond in your daily interactions makes a big impression on your children.

Communicating appropriately

Another way to teach children is through intentional discussions with them. This means talking with them about love, using words they’re familiar with. When children are older, you may use expressions you’re accustomed to using as an adult. But when children are younger, you may need to adapt your communication to fit their age and understanding.

Consider talking with younger kids about loving behavior in ways they comprehend, such as through:

  • 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 reminds us that “love is kind.” Another great Bible phrase on this topic is, A friend loves at all times(Prov. 17:17). These passages can be encouraging words to children as you talk with them about kindness. And thoughtfulness toward others is a characteristic that we all practice regardless of our age!
  • Truthfulness
    Talk with your children about the importance of being reliable in all we say and do as we relate to others. When we keep our promises and show others that they can depend us, trust is built in those relationships. Truthfulness is a way of demonstrating love! We learn this, too, from the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 13:6 we read, “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 being a trustworthy, loving friend.
  • Helpfulness
    Adults may think of this word in terms of Christian service toward others, but children know it simply as caring for the needs of those around them. This mindset and behavior starts in the home as young children help pick up their toys, place dirty clothing in the clothes hamper, and set the table with silverware and plates. As your children mature, show them opportunities for helping those outside the walls of your house. Neighbors are always in need of helpfulness from others with yard work, gathering mail or newspapers when they’re out of town, and other kind gestures. 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.