LOVE is a powerful emotion and when exposed to or influenced by it, we can become completely different people.
Unfortunately, many Jamaican parents have been accused of failing to verbally express their love to their children.
While this does not mean they love their children any less than a parent who makes a habit of reminding their children of the fact everyday, Clinical Psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell says more parents need to get comfortable telling their children the reassuring three-word phrase, because it can significantly contribute to their lives.
“Human beings thrive on love and affection. A lack on the part of the primal figures in our lives can result in psychological issues for children, and can transcend into adult life. It is very important that parents display love and affection,” Dr Bell advised.
She said that love and affection displayed in the right measure should be central to every parent-child relationship. The clinical psychologist underscored that when this happens — which should be at least once each day — parents raise children who are physically, emotionally and mentally superior.
Below, Dr Bell gives a breakdown of just how valuable this exchange can be:
It teaches courage
When parents show their children measured, but unconditional love, it builds confidence in them, which will later transfer into very valuable assets, such as high self-esteem, very high self-efficacy and self-confidence.
They will have a solid model to emulate
“Children who have a stable dose of love develop a good measure of self-love, that translates in acts of kindness, self-compassion and empathy towards self and others,” Dr Bell said.
She expressed that this is very important to future relationships and will influence how they treat others, in general.
It builds trust
“When you tell your children that you love them outright, it sends a message to them that you are in their corner,” Dr Bell said.
She noted, too, that they will not only grow to trust you, but they will begin to appreciate that you have their very best interest at heart, even when you have to make tough decisions.
It teaches bravery
“When children are shown undiluted love, and are constantly reminded of this, they will learn how to withstand bullying and criticism from others,” Dr Bell said.
She explained that love is so powerful that it can drive out dark emotions, including fear. When children are continuously made to feel loved, protected, and safe, they will be equipped to handle the scariest situations.
It makes happy, healthy children
Love is infectious. It is like food to good cells, and the more a parent loves and nurtures his or her children, the greater their chances are of growing up to be psychologically healthy.
“It also increases the possibility of children with greater successes and academic achievements than children grown under harsh conditions,” Dr Bell advised.
It tells them that they are valuable
“Constantly telling a child you love and care for them will teach them that you love them regardless of the mistakes they make and their flaws,” Dr Bell shared.
She said that children need to understand that their very presence is a blessing, and as such, they do not need to give you anything or do anything special to be on the receiving end of this. Knowing that you value them even when they are vulnerable will actually motivate them and give them hope while encouraging them to aspire for more.