Professional Love…

What do you say when a child at your setting says, ‘I love you’?

How do you respond to a child who kisses you?

These are two of many questions that are being debated more frequently in early years settings. How do you deal with the word ‘love’ in a professional capacity – do you avoid it? Use it? Swap it for a less meaningful word?

Have you read any of the recent articles about ‘Professional Love’ in the workplace?

There are many differences of opinions about the precise meaning of ‘love’ as it will mean something different to all of us. Our opinions and beliefs are formed from many different experiences such as our own upbringing, cultural backgrounds, working or personal experiences for example.

Love is a complex set of emotions, behaviours and beliefs associated with strong feelings of affection, protectiveness, warmth, and respect for another person.

The expression of these emotions is fraught with anxiety for some practitioners, particularly due to the media’s exposure of safeguarding cases reported in early years settings. There have been a number of high-profile cases related to care professionals, celebrity entertainers, football coaches and early years workers. This has led to a culture of suspicion in the workplace.

We know that forming secure attachments with children at our settings will improve their well-being and capacity to learn. The impact of feeling ‘loved’ is immense and has benefits such as improved physical, emotional and mental health, it is known to lower stress hormones, it increases self-esteem and helps develop emotional resilience to name but a few.

The Professional Love in Early Years Settings (PLEYS) research project was set up in 2015 by Dr Jools Page to examine how those who work in early years settings can safely express the affectionate and caring behaviours which their role demands of them.

“Professional Love provides practitioners with the language to appropriately describe the close, loving intimate and affectionate bond which, over time, is inevitably developed with the children in their care in the context of reciprocity (meaning with mutual agreement) and shared understanding.”

Professional Love in Early Years Settings (PLEYS) – a report of the summary findings.

The survey, which was completed by 793 early years professionals, including nursery staff, childminders and teaching assistants, found:

  • 95 per cent felt that showing affection to the children in their care was an important part of early years practice.

  • However, 10 per cent said they were worried about false accusations and how others view the appropriateness of their actions.

  • Opinion was mixed on whether respondents felt comfortable being alone around the children in their care, with one in five saying they avoid doing so.

To join our debates and discussions and to find out more – book onto our newest workshop:

Professional Love, 17th March 1-2.30pm

Only £22 per delegate.

During the workshop we will look at:

  • Exploring what ‘love’ means and the impact of a loving relationship

  • What is meant by the term ‘professional love’?

  • Understanding the issues and challenges

  • Exploring parents’ perspectives

  • Reflecting on safeguarding practices at your setting

This workshop is also available for in-house delivery at your setting.

To book your place or find out more:-



Phone: 07495 342 223