Throughout life, individuals go through many stages in the development of their capacity to love. They grow by learning new things and encountering new situations, but their decision making faculty may still remain immature. It takes a long time for a person to learn to evaluate life’s experiences and recognize which experiences to take in and which to avoid. Each experience helps a person to strengthen his or her decisive faculty.
A small child loves or becomes attached to experiences and objects because they stimulate the child’s sensory receptors, satisfy his or her desires, or provide pleasure and relieve tensions. Small children constantly experience the ups and downs of trying to gratify their senses, encountering many frustrations in the process, which become the cause of conflict and stress.
Children cannot always immediately attain the pleasures they desire, which causes frustration, as when a child is hungry, cold, tired, or seeks reassurance. This is one of the basic conflicts in a child’s life. The resulting sense of frustration and powerlessness leads to fear and anger.
A growing infant first “loves” itself and thinks of itself in a self centered way, believing that all the objects in the home or world outside the home exist only for its enjoyment. Children learn to arouse and prolog pleasure by stimulating their sensitive zones. For example, they do this by sucking, chewing or touching objects. This tendency to self gratification exists in all children, yet if this theme of self gratification becomes too established, children may become preoccupied with themselves and with satisfying their own desires throughout life. Later, this may make it difficult or impossible for them to form the love attachment to other individuals.
If young children build boundaries around themselves by gratifying their own senses, they do not learn to become aware of the obstacles and conflicts they create when their interests clash with those of others. It is important that children to be attentive to the needs, feelings, and desires of others too or they can never mature as human beings. During these early years children need to learn to share. This is a difficult time, when a child needs skilled, loving, and fair guidance, but children sometimes encounter a generation gap between their own thinking and that of their parents. Often children are left to their own resources in their attempts to explore the possibility of experiencing constant happiness. Adults usually do not teach children how to integrate this motivation to please themselves with an awareness of others’ needs, because the parents themselves have often not learned to balance their desire for pleasure with sensitivity to others.
As small children explore the external world, their ability to learn can be obstructed if they become obsessed with fulfilling their many changing desires. A craving to posses and enjoy objects begins to become even more intense. When such a desire or craving is forcibly inhibited by an opposing motive, like the fear of punishment, the processes of repression and suppression begin. Conflicts arise in the process of imparting moral training because children are taught to avoid acknowledging certain emotions, desires for particular pleasures, or tendencies that exist in them.
Unfortunately, children encounter many difficulties, for they are not yet aware that if the objects of joy and pleasure are meant for them to enjoy these objects are also meant to give enjoyment to others. Children innately want to take but do not want to give or share. It is difficult for a child to learn to give, for initially, he or she has only formed the habit of taking. This strengthens the individual’s ego and makes children self involved, egotistical and self centered. A child becomes attached to the things he or she enjoys and calls them mine. This is natural for children, yet to develop as healthy people; children must learn to share and not remained self centered.
But love is the most ancient traveler in the universe, and nature of love is to travel, evolve, and grow. After the first period of self involvement and self love, comes the next phase the emergence of love for the parents. The mother becomes the first focus of this love, because she constantly attends to the child and to its needs. If a child receives this love, then a child enters the next phase, that of learning to share.