Have you read the book "The five love languages" by Gary Chapman?
It was an eye opener for me. It is basically a way of communicating to our children (and loved ones) either through verbal or non-verbal communication.
When we use our children's love languages, it triggers a feeling of love and acceptance, and when this happens our loved ones feel strengthened during tough days. By feeling more understood, they may allow themselves to be teachable and disciplined, enabling them to be good citizens in society.
These are the five categories:-
1. Physical touch e.g hugs, kisses, cuddling, reading a story whilst sitting on mummy or daddy's lap, giving high fives, pats on the back etc. Some parents even go as far as leaving written encouraging notes in their children's lunch box, I didn't go that far!
In Paediatric Health Care, touch is seen as an important role in facilitating growth and development in infants.
I have noticed the significance of this love language in my children, as they feel more relaxed and reassured when they receive hugs from me.
2. Word of Affirmation e.g giving encouragement, texting them, calling them, talking to them about their thoughts and feeling, and telling them that you are proud of them. This one is a big deal for me, as I had to learn to watch my tone of voice when I'm unhappy or stressed as they would often pick up when something was wrong. Life is full of challenges but as parents, we should avoid seeming unhappy or stressed all the time and in front of our children as it may become a detriment to their mental state and well-being, if it happens too often.
3. Quality Time e.g going to the park, on holiday, going on walks together, painting, bike riding and reading together. Reading was a routine in our household, especially during the early years, when they were learning phonics at school. Then it became daily reading of a book of their choice and writing about it in their reading records. I am a firm believer that it is not about the quantity of time spent but the QUALITY of time spent with your children that matters most. When we spend quality time with our children and share some life experiences, we make them aware of the consequences of their thoughts and actions.
There are many ways of spending time with loved ones which don't have to be expensive, e.g. walking to the park or shops whilst chatting, praying or singing together at home or even watching your favourite movie on Netflix.
4. Act of Service e.g helping them do things they cannot do for themselves, such as with homework, taking them to sporting events or getting ready for school in the morning.
As a parent, the act of service is never ending, from preparing things for them the night before and laying their clothes out for them, (when they were at the stage of dressing themselves up) to helping with spelling. Also helping them prepare for a test, especially in the language side, I remember being told "that 's not how you say it, mummy!" My French, Spanish or Latin skills were never at par with theirs, I had to remind them, I wasn't a linguist nor their teacher but remain a scientist! Every little helps so I did try my best to help them practice their words and I think they are grateful for the in-put.
As my children grew older, they recognised the importance of serving, and have taken part in serving others either through coaching younger school friends in sporting activities, helping people with revision for exams that they had previously taken, or supporting in youth events. All of these things help to remind them to think about others and to not have the "self- entitlement" I see in some millennials. So, I would recommend that where possible, parents should encourage their children to help others and give back in any way that they can.
Parenting is a continuous act of service full stop. I like it when my children give me thanks. Even when I buy them a take-away, they are quick to show gratitude. It wasn't always this way when they were younger but I have noticed an increase in giving thanks, as they grew older. We are constantly serving our children and as they mature, they need to be taught how to serve others and show appreciation for the services they have received during their younger years. The letter below was sent home to my daughter who supported her school during the "language exchange" programme. I was pleased with the recognition from school.
5. Gifts - any gift, large or small.
This doesn't have to be massive, but can be as small as an ice cream or sweets. I remember buying a nice sparkly pen and giving it to my child as a well done present for the most improved writer in class. She was very happy especially with the gift box in came in! This showed me that giving gifts at that primary school age, didn't have to be too expensive. I hasten to add that as years went by, the gifting took a whole different level, with vouchers and money being the preferred options for my teenagers at the moment. Therefore, as parents you should do what is suitable and affordable for you and don't be pressurised into giving them what is beyond your means. Your children will be appreciative for your efforts to reward them regardless.
It is not only children that have love languages, but adults also have them and knowing your love language or that of your partners, will foster better relationships!
What are your love languages? Do you know your family members love languages?
Comment down below what you think yours may be!