When a kid turns five, the whole world opens up to him.  

He goes to school—a real school! He learns to tie his shoes and write the alphabet, and suddenly has a limitless number of friends.  

And the opportunities for fun grow right along with his legs. He might play soccer, help out at church, and earn a little more freedom to do what he wants at home. Yes, the elementary years are a whole lot of fun.  

Still, there’s a tension to tapping your toe in the real world. Alongside the fun comes a bit of fear. As the years go by, he might wonder, “Am I safe? Am I loved?”  

The answer, of course, is yes. And you can be the one to tell him.  

What Love Means to an Elementary School Kid 

Your love—as a parent or church leader—works first and foremost as an example of the way God loves all of us. That’s why your intention in this area matters so much. If you love an elementary school kid well, he’ll get a glimpse of the One who loves him most.  

He’ll also begin to learn how to best love God back, how to love others, and how to love himself. And there’s no feeling more secure–to a person of any age–than love that’s both given and received.  

How to Best Express Love to an Elementary Schooler 

We all need love. Kids in particular use love as a barometer to measure their own worth. So yeah, we definitely love them. But since they’re evaluating themselves based on what we say and do, we want to make sure we get this right.  

Thankfully, while every child is different, most kids ask the same central questions as they grow. You can answer those questions–with gusto!–by engaging their age-specific interests.  

Let’s take a look at what the kids in your class or home need most from you: 

Kindergarteners and First Graders 

What I want to know: Do I have your attention? Do you see where I’m trying, when I fail, and when I get things right?  

How you can show me love: Turn your eyes toward me. Tell me what you see. Validate my interests by getting into what I’m into. 

Something to keep in mind: I’m super sensitive to tough talk. Yes, I’m bigger than I once was, but I’m still pretty little. I want a challenge, but I need compassion.  

Second Graders and Third Graders 

What I want to know: Do I have what it takes? Will I measure up in all the ways I hope to? 

How you can show me love: Ask me questions about what I like to do, give me guidance on how to get better, and encourage me to keep going when I struggle.  

Something to keep in mind: When I fail, I really feel it. I want to do things on my own and I think I can, but I’m not sure I can be the best. And I don’t really like that.   

Fourth Graders and Fifth Graders 

What I want to know: Do I have a best friend–someone who likes me for me?  

How you can show me love: Help me figure out how to be a good friend. And let me practice my relational skills by inviting friends along on adventures big and small.  

Something to keep in mind: My body is acting pretty weird. I’m not saying I want to talk about it. But my peers are pretty influential right now–and they’re all freaking out about their bodies, too.  

The next time an elementary schooler asks with his eyes, “Am I safe? Am I loved?” you can respond with a resounding and action-packed, “Yes!”

This content was contributed by Phase. Discover all the resources available for your elementary schooler in the Phase store.