Wednesday, 13 May 2015

5 Ways to Love Your Child

5 Love Languages

I love cuddles!  To my chagrin, my husband is not much of a touchy-feely guy.  His definition of cuddling is a quick hug (don't worry, I've informed him that he's wrong).  But I digress.  My point is, people feel and express love in different ways.  When I got married, I realized that I really feel loved through things like physical touch, while my husband feels loved when I spend quality time with him or I buy him gifts.

We got this idea of different ways to feel loved from a book called The Five Love Languages, and it really helped us show love in ways that the other person understands and actually feels loved.  It's really affected the way that I parent my children and show them I love them in a tangible way.

To summarize, you can express/feel love in different ways, and there are specific ways that make us each feel especially loved.  Chapman lists 5 main ways in which we show and receive love (we probably feel loved in all these ways, but our primary love language makes us feel especially loved):
  1. Physical touch
  2. Quality time
  3. Words of affirmation
  4. Acts of service
  5. Receiving gifts
When I first had my daughter, I started to wonder how I could show her I loved her.  As a newborn, I figured I would concentrate on showing her my love through physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation.  I know she hadn't developed the ability to speak yet, but even infants can register tone of voice and other communication cues!

5 Love Languages

As she grew, I really made an effort to observe what made her happy and what she liked to spend time doing.  For example, my daughter loves to cuddle and read books, and she's always up for a good tickle or hug.  As we observed last Christmas, she really could care less about getting material gifts (can we talk about how kids seem to like the boxes and tissue paper more than the gifts?!).  She also doesn't seem to focus too much on our compliments or words of encouragement.  Now let me make a disclaimer here...I think she does feel encouraged through things like words or gifts, but she feels loved more tangibly when I give her a kiss or a tickle.  Her face lights up and she reciprocates with a hug and an, "I love you, mama!"  When she opens a present, she just isn't as excited as when I hug her.  I also think she likes to play and read books together because she really gets her love tank filled through spending quality time together.

My physical touch girl loves hugs.  And being carried.  All.the.time.

As she gets older, I figure I'll resort to asking her how she feels loved, so that I can really focus my expressions of love.  I also think that her primary love languages might change over time, so I'll probably re-evaluate every once in a while to effectively communicate my love to her.  Have you observed what makes your child especially happy?  What makes them feel especially loved?

Here are some ways I brainstormed to show your love to your child in the 5 ways (plus a handy infographic I found online):

Physical touch - hug, hold hands, kiss, tickle, wrestle, carry, piggyback, backrub/massage, sit close to each other
Quality time - spend focused time together where you aren't distracted by other people/media, do chores together, read, play, paint, cook, go on a date
Words of affirmation - praise, tell them you love them (especially randomly, unrelated to achievements or things they've done), write them a card/note of encouragement, tell them how proud you are of them, praise them in front of others
Acts of service - help with projects, homework, chores, give rides, make their favourite meal, fix a toy, or anything else that is important to your child (which are not necessarily things that you think are helpful!)
Receiving gifts - (the cost of these gifts isn't as important as the thought) give cards, toys, books, give them things unrelated to an occasion

5 Love Languages
From Focus on The Family

Tip!  You can also figure our your child's love language by observing what upsets them most.  Did you cancel a date with them?  Is your son upset because you can't carry him?  Was your daughter disappointed that she didn't get a present from a relative?

I actually read this book initially because my friend shared with me how it changed her daughter's behaviour!  She had a daughter who was always getting into physical fights at school, and after reading The Five Love Languages of Children, she realized that her daughter's primary love language was physical touch.  They started wrestling and tickling her more at home, in addition to hugs and kisses, and her daughter stopped fighting virtually overnight.  Isn't that amazing?  I know, it's just one example, but it just goes to show you how much we need to feel loved!

This is just a short summary of what I've observed and how I'm growing in my communication skills.  I really want to communicate that I love my children in ways they actually feel loved (and not how I think they should feel loved).  And I'm trying to do it as much as I can right now, while they're young, because who knows what will happen when they're teens (ugh I am so not looking forward to those years)?!

How do you show your kids you love them?   Have you noticed that you feel especially loved when it's expressed in a certain way?

P.S.  Feel free to let your significant other know what your primary love language is!  And make sure they know that your love tank is infinitely big, so they can feel free to continue to fill it.  Forever.  ;)

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