Love or friendship ? How to talk about it and what to say to your child?

Amour ou amitié ? Comment en parler et quoi dire à son enfant ?

Vast subject than that of the difference between love and friendship when one is a child. We don't necessarily understand the subtleties that separate them, the “codes” of each of these feelings, the rules… Love, like friendship, can cause suffering at any age. It is therefore important to be able to open the dialogue when the children grow up, in order to know how to answer their questions or their thoughts on the subject. But how to talk about it with our little ones, what to say?

Love and friendship are not the same

You can use our first article on the different forms of love to help you find the right words to differentiate between love and friendship with your little one. Emphasize the physical sensations, the attraction. You can also talk about the exclusivity of love, while friendship is more shared (in general). We have several friends – even if we do not feel the same things for all of them or they do not bring us the same things – whereas we generally only have one. in love. It is sometimes very difficult for a child to differentiate these two feelings because he can confuse what he feels. As with many subjects, always come back to what he or she expresses and feels, ask him or her to describe what is going on in his heart, in his body, to succeed in making sense of things.

Friendship can also make you very sad

Sometimes when a child has a big heartache of friendship, he can be all the more confused and wonder if he is not finally in love for feeling such strong things. This is completely normal. You can then introduce the notions of jealousy, betrayal, friendly disputes, reconciliation... and tell him that yes, the great sorrows of friendship exist. There can be complicated dominance relationships to manage in friendships for little ones. Anger, sadness (and intense joy!) aren't just for romantic relationships!

We don't have to be in love.

Amorous love is so valued in our society that we think it is necessary for happiness, even essential. It is very important that your child feels free to be or not to be in love. Mockery and teasing start very early in the playground around these questions of "lovers", and can deeply hurt some children. Amorous love is not obligatory, you can live happily alone or surrounded by friends and family. Especially when you are a young child! Early on, teach your child to respond to any teasing he or she may receive. This is a great gift you give her for later!

We don't have to love who we are told to love

“A girl must like a boy”, “A boy must like a girl”, “You must get along well with the children of your parents' friends”, “You must like someone of the same color, of the same religion than you”, “You cannot play with children who are too different from you” … clichés and judgments are still going strong and it is essential to fight them to give our children the maximum chance of being who they want to be and not to play intolerance. Difference and complementarity are invaluable riches in friendship, as in love. Love doesn't just have one form; a boy can love a boy, a girl can love a girl, you can also not be in love. Friendship has a thousand and one possibilities: you don't have to be friends with anyone if you don't want to be, and you can be friends with whoever you want. These two feelings have neither color, nor language, nor confession, nor pre-established gender, quite simply because they cannot be controlled, they are above all inter-individual choices and they only concern those who do them.

There is no taboo subject

This message is also very close to our hearts. The child must know that he can talk about anything to his referent adults. Of love, of friendship, of intimacy, of sexuality also when it will be the moment. Even if these subjects can be delicate for the parents, it is very important that the child knows that there are no taboos. We can talk about anything, with chosen words. If the child is ready to talk about a topic, he.she will let you know, believe us! This will contribute to his well-being and reassurance, and will also allow for prevention.

The important thing is respect and consent

We already mentioned it in our previous article, but it's too important not to do it again! Insist on the notions of respect (for others, for one's body and that of others, for feelings, etc.) and consent. You can't force anyone to do something with their body that they don't want to do. Neither a child nor an adult has the right (unless it is care, and again, in the presence of a trusted adult, or if the child is in danger). In the same way, but on a different note, convey to the child the message that no one can force him to do or commit something that he considers dangerous or unpleasant. Having this in mind also helps prevent the risk of bullying between children and gives a lot of strength. Love and friendship yes, a thousand times yes! But with respect for everyone and as long as they remain shared moments that bring more joy than pain.

And to talk about all these not necessarily obvious subjects, Pipouette can support you and become your ally, whether to describe various emotions or to serve as a mascot, especially when you discuss more physical subjects.