Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Does your child feel loved by you?
It seems there are some ways that show love to all children and then there is also a breakdown of ways, referred to as love languages, that are more individualized. Every child needs certain things to feel loved and our responsibility as parents is to continually use these. Children who feel loved are more likely to succeed in life and relationships than children who are loved but don't feel it.
One of the things crucial to all children is eye contact. Looking your child straight in the eye and maintaining that eye contact shows your child that they have your undivided attention. Also, eye contact conveys honesty. Children also need one on one time. This one is harder. And the bigger your family, the harder yet. Finding individualized time for each of our children is going to take time and sacrifice. I'm willing but don't always feel able. I'm going to have to work hard on this one. The third crucial part for all children is discipline. Discipline is training and setting boundaries. It includes punishment but that's not the main focus of discipline. The idea of discipline is to eventually lead them to self-discipline, self-control. We all know how important that is in our lives. It's our responsibility to direct our children in that and, amazingly, doing so helps them understand that whee love them. So eye contact, one on one time, and discipline are the foundations.
Beyond those basic are the five love languages. Each of us, including our children, speaks and understands a different love language. The five languages as laid out by Gary Chapman PhD and Ross Campbell MD in the book "The Five Love Languages of Children" are quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Though each of these ought to be expressed, one of these speaks loudest to each child. A child whose language is physical touch will love hugs and kisses, patty cake, tickling, spinning and dancing together and riding piggy back. The child whose language acts of service will really appreciate you making something for them or even doing their chores one day for a special treat. Quality time speakers will really feel loved by the one on one time all our children need. Mommy and me classes are great for these kids. Children who feel loved by words of affirmation will love the cheerleader in you. Saying "I love you" and "great job" or "good try" will mean more to them than the other languages. A child whose love language is gifts places great meaning in gifts, showing love by giving and feeling love by receiving gifts. Figuring out your child's love language can be done by asking "would you rather" questions. "I have some free-time next Saturday. Would you rather I cleaned your room while you got your nails done (acts of service) or would you prefer we go buy that cute pair of earrings you saw last week (gifts)?" "Do you want me to read you a story (quality time) or play horsey ride (physical touch)?" "Would you rather I told grandma all about your ballet recital (verbal affirmation) or do you want to take the new tutu you received to show her (gifts)?" "Do you want to make cookies for your class together (quality time) or shall I make them while you play outside (acts of service)?" After asking these types of questions over a period of time you ought to know your child's language of love and you'll be more apt to follow through showing it, realizing how wonderful it is to have your child know you love them. I'm excited to get started on figuring out my kids. I have some guesses already but we'll see. What do you think? Do you know how to make your child feel loved? For that matter, do you know your own love language? I'm certain you love your children as I do so let's see what we can do to make them know it!
Suggested further reading:
"The Five Love Languages of Children"
"How to Really Love Your Child"
"Boundaries with Kids"