How Children Learn About Love

From How Chil­dren Learn About Love (good arti­cle, the whole thing):

Signs of Affec­tion, Age by Age
4 to 6 weeks: Smile. Though it may just mean “Yeah! Here’s my meal tick­et!” a grin still sig­nals that your baby knows it’s you.
2 months: Coo. Those first nois­es are his way of try­ing to con­nect with you.
4 months: Laugh. When he gig­gles, you’ll laugh back, and the inter­ac­tion delights him.
9 months to 1 year: Hug and blow kiss­es. They’ll be direct­ed at you, as well as the oth­ers in his expand­ing universe.
18 months to 2 years: “I love you.” Though he’s most­ly imi­tat­ing words he’s heard you say, he’s learn­ing how to express the emo­tion with words.
Preschool­ers and kinder­gart­ners: By now, lit­tle kids know love is some­thing you feel about some­one who thinks you’re spe­cial. Preschool­ers will rarely say “I love you” to peers, how­ev­er; they save it for the grown-ups who care for and pro­tect them.
Grade-school­ers: As their cog­ni­tive skills devel­op, kids this age know that love is about reciprocity—and they love those peo­ple who they know feel the same about them.

While read­ing the arti­cle, I kept see­ing chil­dren I have known. I’ve always been struck by the incred­i­ble dif­fer­ence I’ve seen in chil­dren who were held, stroked, spo­ken and sung to, and gen­er­al­ly loved con­stant­ly, con­sis­tent­ly, fierce­ly, gen­tly, and reli­ably through­out their ear­ly years and those who were not. Attach­ment dis­or­der isn’t just a label when you real­ly see the huge differences. 

It real­ly comes down to whether or not those chil­dren were loved 24/7/365 by peo­ple who were avail­able, present, tru­ly THERE in every sense of the word. You can talk about “Oh, I love my kids, I just don’t have time to spend with them” all you like, but it’s bull­shit. Love requires action. It is a verb. It requires your pres­ence. Not just being in the same house or room, but your atten­tion, your ener­gy, your inter­ac­tion in a car­ing way.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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