“You don’t LOVE me!!” my child yelled angrily back at me.
WHAT?! Of course, I do! I thought angrily. How could you even say that?
That sentence stopped me in my tracks. In our family, hubby and I are very open about our love for our kids. We don’t shy away from hugging our kids and saying “I love you” to them. So when my son accused me of not loving him at all, I was troubled. Even though hubby tried to assure me that it is just an angry outburst from a child. I do not want to leave it to chance that my kid does not know that I love him. When we were both in a calmer mood, I backtracked and asked him why he accused me of not loving him.
He shared that he felt he was always being yelled at over homework and misbehavior. He felt that I always siding with his sister (2 years younger). When I asked if he knows I love him, his response surprised me. He said he knows it BUT he does not believe it.
Hmm… I thought I did everything right. I tell him that I love him. I let him play with his toys and organize play dates for him. I showered him with gifts he desired. I spend time with him. How could he NOT believe I love him?
It turns out that my 10-year-old’s Love Language is words of affirmation. Lately, I have been on his case over homework disciplines and school grades. And he is feeling the heat.
Do our children truly know we love them?
Then, I came across The Five Love Language for Children by Dr. Gary Chapman, author of best-selling Five Love Languages series and the director of Family Life Consultants Inc., and wondered if that has anything to do with my child’s doubts about my love.
I learned that every child under five requires demonstrations of the Five Love Languages, but at age seven, their primary love language becomes more prominent. The book was a page-turner and I had a lot of fun discovering the primary love language of each member of our family. It has also been an eye-opener to “see” the emotional tank being filled as we conveyed our love in the child’s primary love language. And a child who feels loved is a cooperative child.
Here is an extraction of the main points in the Five Love Languages.
1. Physical Touch
Physical touch is the easiest love language to use unconditionally because parents need no special occasion or excuse to make physical contact. Even though the contact is physical, make eye contact to help communicate your love. All children need to be touched in loving, appropriate ways but respect your child’s age needs. Try the following practical tips.
- – Pick up your young child or give her a piggyback ride.
- – Give your child a high five.
- – Give your child a quick kiss on the head or ruffle her hair.
- – Give your child a hug.
- – Give your child a back rub or scratch her back.
- – Give your child a pat on the back.
- – Play a physical sport.
- – Snuggle together and read.
- – Tuck your child into bed.
- – Hold hands during prayer time.
2. Words of Affirmation
In communicating love, words are powerful. Praise for a child should be both true and justified. Affirmation can be spoken, written, or nonverbal. You may have to do so at a time that will not embarrass your child. Try the following.
- – Say “good morning” and “thank you” in a pleasant voice.
- – Say “I love you” anytime.
- – Use a nickname.
- – Compliment how your child looks.
- – Always praise successes.
- – Place an encouraging note in her lunch.
- – Maintain a calm voice.
- – Give your child a thumbs-up or high five.
- – At bedtime, tell your child something specific she did well that day.
3. Quality Time
Quality time is a parent’s gift of presence. It should be focused attention. Eye contact is essential. Your child must feel your undivided attention. Listen actively to your child without interruption. Try the following.
- Ask your child an open-ended question about her day.
- Sit with your child at breakfast.
- Ask follow-up questions about what your child is telling you.
- Maintain a conversation while driving in the car.
- Look your child in the eye when talking.
- Attend special events. Make a special one-on-one date.
- Check homework with your child.
- Read a book together and talk about it.
- Pray together before bed or have a quick chat and listen to your child.
A true gift is not payment for services rendered; rather, it is an expression of love. Gifts may be bought, found, or made. Celebrate the ordinary! It is the thought that counts. Try the following.
- Purchase a new shampoo, soap, or even toothpaste and give it as a surprise.
- Fix a favorite breakfast at an unexpected time.
- Give your child a vase of flowers.
- Buy a special birthday or holiday gift.
- Hide a treat under your child’s pillow.
- Give your child a devotion book or new Bible.
- Hide treats in every place your child goes as part of a morning or evening routine.
- Go shopping to buy a special item.
5. Acts of Service
As your child observes your serving attitude, she will begin to pattern it herself. The primary motivation is not to please your child but to do what is best for her. Do not use acts of service to manipulate your child. Attitude is everything. Try the following.
- Pack your child’s lunch.
- Make breakfast and serve your child.
- Gather your child’s backpack for her.
- Iron something for your child.
- Help your child clean up a mess she has made.
- Make your child’s favorite dish for supper.
- Repair something that is broken.
- Take time off from work to do something special for your child.