What is Double Down on Love?
Frederick Douglass's timeless wisdom echoes: "It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men.” But do we also ask ourselves, "What does it take to build strong children?” This is the central focus of the Double Down On Love campaign!
The idea for Double Down on Love originated from a conversation with someone working directly with young people, who emphasized the need to "double down on love.”
During our work on The Third ACE Project, young people told our team that they consistently felt unseen. They believed adults were not paying attention to them, not considering the impact of the pandemic on them, and that their community did not love them. An African proverb states, "The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
Even one caring adult can ensure the success and happiness of a growing child.
How do you double down on love?
Countless simple and free ways exist: Greet young people when you see them, engage in genuine conversations about their interests and worries, ask about their well-being, and truly listen. Thoughtful texts or affirmations that acknowledge specific positive qualities can counterbalance the negativity they may often hear. The beauty of Double Down On Love lies in the fact that many ways to express love are absolutely free—they only require a bit of time and space in your heart.
Love: A core human need
When we consider the well-being of our young people, we often prioritize external factors like food, shelter, clothing, and education—crucial elements for their physical needs. We seek to protect them from harm. However, what about their internal well-being—their heart, soul, and spirit? Their resilience? Strong early attachments with caring adults correlate with better mental health and fewer behavior challenges. This campaign reminds adults of the greatest need: love.
Dr. Carl C. Bell emphasizes, "Risk factors are not predictive factors because of protective factors." The data indicates that having a caring adult in their life is one of the most effective protective factors for a young person.
How does this work for infants and toddlers?
Infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) focuses on the social-emotional development of children from birth through age 5. IECMH isn’t about putting babies on Sigmund Freud’s couch but rather focuses on the capacity of very young minds to experience emotions, form relationships, and learn. Warm interactions foster confidence, resilience, and communication skills, vital for future problem-solving, stress management, and healthy relationships.
The parent/child relationship quality is crucial during the first years of brain development. The initial three years mark rapid brain development—Babies' brains create 1 million new neural connections every second, laying the foundation for overall well-being. Responsive interactions early in life set the stage for a lifetime of mental health.