There is a book most couples may have read. Or if you’re like us, the wife read it and reiterated it to the husband. It’s called the 5 Love Languages. It outlines ways in which we feel loved, how we may express love and matching them up with our partner’s ‘language’. I have found it tremendously helpful in my marriage.
I recently read the 5 Love Languages of Children
I wanted to read this because I loved the book for couples. I also wanted to read this because whatever I was doing lately didn’t seem effective.
Since baby number three came,
I felt like my parenting had been a sliding scale of threats and bribery. I felt like a different mother – short, distracted, and unable to ‘be’ with my kids now that there was a baby here. How could I expect them to emotionally navigate through it all when it was even hard for me?
I could call it the terrible threes and twos, but I thought it would be worth a try to stop what I was doing and see if I could pick up on cues at this early age at what their Love Language could be.
I think we all have someone in our life, whether our parents or not, who has loved us ‘conditionally’. We have probably loved other people conditionally. You must behave like x.y and z to earn and maintain my love. Conditional love doesn’t feel like genuine love
(to anyone) yet sometimes we love our kids conditionally. Sometimes we even give rewards and special treatment for meeting the required behaviours (my default parenting mode).I had heard someone once say that children will cooperate and obey you if they feel loved. I don’t believe this as a complete theory. I believe they are motivated to feel loved, if that comes with conditions they will learn they have to meet them to get that reward of your love. They will learn they are worth loving based on them meeting a ‘checklist’. We have the tremendous gift of teaching our children what makes them lovable and what love looks like.
No pressure right? I mean most days I’m all….
But I wanted to ask myself, how can I make my kids feel loved even when I don’t love what they are doing? How can I instill in them that they are worth loving based on who they are, even when they make mistakes?
There are some great tips on identifying your child’s Love Language in the book. I think, at three and a half, I can just start to apply these to Levi. What does he ask for, how does he show love to others?I watched Levi for a few days. I tried out the different 5 Love Languages: Physical Touch; Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Gifts and Acts of Service. I took the test at the back of the book. I started to notice that Levi’s attitude turned sour and mean for the whole day when I would get upset with him. I underestimated how aware he was of my own feelings above his own and how tender his heart responded to mine.
Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service were tied for number one.
So I started praising all the great things Levi did rather than reprimand him for everything negative. Gradually the positive behaviours became the dominant ones.
I paid special attention to my words to give him genuine compliments on his efforts and accomplishments. I saw the smile that came across his face, and the pride he started taking in trying new and harder things.
I helped him with new projects and activities. I didn’t do
things for him, but I did help him, especially when he asked. I saw him taking on new tasks he couldn’t do before after some initial coaching from me. One day I helped him put a puzzle together a few times. That day he played it for hours and brought it to bed with him.I also noticed that his own way to express love, as
Acts of Service. He always wants to help. Now, I had to give him space to do that without so many ‘NOs’ and ‘not right nows’. After all, I see him assuming his role as biggest brother very seriously. When he was ‘trying to help’ me clean the toilet I had to first acknowledge he was trying to help – rather than jump to punishing him for covering the bathroom in fecal water.
What a difference. He started helping more (with the space I had given him to do more on his own); being more cooperative; playing nicer with his sister. Yes, of course he is three and has strong negative emotions
that this month is November, or that his toothpaste isn’t blue. Yet, now I feel like I am able to love him effectively. He can get me in quality because quantity is no longer an option. I feel like he is feeling more secure in knowing he is loved and valued in his newly changed family.
|ALL of the feelings
There is great information on discipline in the book too. It’s not about being a doormat to our kids, but doing everything, even discipline, with effectiveness and love, rather than negativity and anger. In fact, there is a whole chapter on Anger and Love which was impactful for me. The book outlines how it roots into our actions, our passive-aggressive tendencies, how it can control us or how we can teach our kids to control it (lots of emotional coaching in this book, which has been the type of parenting that suits me and my family).
I would highly recommend this book for any parents, with kids of any age. The book points out that there is a primary language, but it doesn’t mean your kid has only one. The book also points out that it changes from the preschool years, to elementary, to teenage years.How about you, have you ever read the 5 Love Languages books? What are your kids’ Love Languages?
“Book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Moody Publishers”.
The Five Love Languages of Children from Dr. Gary Chapman on Vimeo.
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