How To Teach Kids About God’s Love Without Grossing Them Out

The movie is about to end, and the happily married couple ride off into the sunset, sharing a smooch as their horse disappears from view.

“Gross!” Ryan says, covering his eyes.

Mom sighs. “What’s gross?”

“Yeah, what’s so gross about that?” Ryan’s older sister chimes in. “They’re in love.”

“Love is gross!” shouts Ryan.

This is just an imaginary tale, but it’s what typically happens when kids witness displays of affection from their parents or in movies. It’s extremely important for kids to know that God loves them, and to understand how they can love others. However, they seem to always equate the word “love” with the mushy-gushy stuff.

So, as Valentine’s Day rolls around, how are we going to teach kids about love without totally grossing them out? Here are three practical ways to discuss with kids to help them understand what real love is all about:

 

1. There are many kinds of love.

If you say “I love you” to a friend, it’s different from Mom and Dad saying, “I love you” to each other. In fact, many languages have different words for different “levels” of love. In Spanish, for example, “te quiero” is for friends, while “te amo” is a stronger expression, mainly for family and couples. Since we don’t have different words in English, kids should know that if someone says, “I love you”, they don’t necessarily mean it in the mushy-gushy way.

 

2. Love is DOING, not SAYING.

Ask your kids how they know that their parents love them. Most of their answers will have to do with ACTIONS, such as “My mom cooks food for me”, and “My dad helps me with my homework.” Help kids realize that they can show love to others in the same way: through their actions, because just saying, “I love you” to someone doesn’t prove it. After all, “Actions speak louder than louds”.

 

3. Love is about putting others first.

Kids can show love to others in simple ways without ever saying a word. A great verse about this is Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you (NIV). Talk to the students about a few real-life situations like these:

  • You’re in the bathroom at school, and you’ve REALLY gotta go! There are a few kids ahead of you. What would you hope they would do when you ask them if you can cut the line?
  • You’re out shopping with your older sister or brother, and there’s only ONE  left, and you both REALLY want it! What would you hope that your older sibling would do for you?
  • You really don’t understand the math homework, but you know that your friend at school does. You call your friend for help, but he says he’s already finished his and wants to play video games. What would you hope he would do?

 

So, what is God’s love all about?

We can understand how God loves us by remembering the three points above!

God loves us in many ways: His loves us like a best friend, a father, a doctor, a counselor, and a Savior. He’s more faithful than your oldest friend, wiser than your father, more patient and forgiving than your Mom, can work miracles that your best doctor can’t, gives better advice than your school counselor, and is better than a superhero— He can save you from ANYTHING. He also gave us a better gift than anything Santa Claus could bring.

God SHOWS His love for us: There are many verses that say that God loves us. But how does He show it? Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV). Here are a few other ways God shows His love:

  • He forgives us. (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)
  • He listens to us. (1 John 5:14) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (NIV)
  • He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (ESV)
  • He provides for us. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

God Puts Us First: God showed us his love by putting us first and giving up His only Son for us. Would you give up what you love most for someone else? Would you give up your life for someone? When kids think about the answers to those questions, they can begin to understand what God’s love really means.

Kids need to know that God’s love is perfect and unconditional, meaning He doesn’t only love them when they give Him something or do something for Him. He even loves them when they’re bad! His love is the best, and NOTHING can separate us from it!

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