by Mark Arrollado
We parents don’t need to be taught the ways to express our love to our kids. Most of us naturally know how to do it: a hug, a kiss, rubbing the kid’s back, words of encouragement or affectionate talking… all these that we are so familiar with, that we do everyday, are signs of love. This article only serves as a reminder – and probably a checklist, for a few methods that we can use.
I would like to share with you Dr. Gary Chapman’s work, that categorizes the methods we often use to show our love into “The Five Love Languages”. This book is intended as a guide for married couples, but I am sure the Five Languages he introduced are universal – it works for parent and kids too!
Language 1: Words of Affirmation
Our kids listen to us. No matter how defiant they appear to be, they are always listening, and are sensitive to our words. Therefore, we have to be careful in what we speak to them. We might even want to ‘design’ the language pattern we use, to generate only positive energy.
Affirmative words help build our kids’ positive self-image. A daily “I love you” gives your kid a sense of warmth, safety and security, and lets him know that he’s lovely and deserves to be loved. A “good job!” encourages him to repeat the positive behavior he shows. A repeated “you are our darling” makes him certain that he belongs to the family and is respected. “I am proud of you” gives him much courage to grow and excel…
Language 2: Quality Time
No matter how busy we are, as parents we must make it a point to spend quality time with our children. When we are together with our kids, we focus on them – not the e-mail we have to reply immediately, not the soccer news we must not miss, not the floor we must clean now. All the chores that take our attention away from our kids show our lack of interest in spending time with them – the kids can feel it.
Take the kid out to play at least once a week, chat with her every evening, have dinner with her – and no disciplining during dinner, go shopping for groceries together, involve her in gardening… Or at least, if we’re really so busy with other things, give the kid a deep, warm, sincere hug every day.
Language 3: Gifts
Giving gifts isn’t encouraging your kids to grow materialistic. It should be viewed as a sign of recognition, appreciation or rewards. And did you notice, your kids are the experts in giving gifts! Remember the birthday card he made for you, a flower she picked for you from the roadside, a serving of sushi served on a cute plate (both are plastic toy though)…?
Your gifts don’t need to be expensive. A pint of ice-cream, a new shirt, a doll, a new white board, etc will do the job. It can be non-materialistic stuff too! A visit to zoo, a trip to grandma’s house, and even a promise to play a game with the kid will be appreciated.
Language 4: Physical Touch
This is the most familiar way to show love to most parents. We enjoy hugging our kids, brushing our fingers through the kids’ soft hair, cuddling them sleep, stroking their backs… Love can be felt by both the kids and us when we do that. And not only do the kids feel good – we feel good too!
Scientifically, physical touches stimulate endorphins, the “feel good hormone”. Endorphins helps releasing stress and strengthens the immune system. So touch your kids more. It not only fulfills her emotional needs, but physical needs too!
Language 5: Act of Service
There was once my wife asked my son, “How do you know mummy loves you?”, and my son, with the limited words he knew, said, “Because you always comb my hair for me”. This explains how an “act of service” is a way to express love.
We can choose to completely take over the chores we are helping our kids do, but better, we can involve them and do it together with them. Remember to accompany the act with abundant of physical touches and words of encouragement, to maximize the expression of love!
See Also Parenting Articles by Dr. Randy Cale at www.TerrificParenting.com