Parenting is hard. You see all of these quotes about how parenting is the best job in the world because your payment is the unconditional love of your child. What they don’t include in these little quotes is that if you’re doing it “wrong”, there’s a potential for your child to end up doing something that you really wouldn’t be the most proud of. But there’s no manual. There’s no guide to consult how to handle your child if they’re talking back to teachers or to you. There is no definitive way to handle all children and all children are so very different. Deciphering and handling their behavior through all of the many changes that they grow through can be downright spirit-killing for parents–I mean, we’re people too.
Mini and I were going through our own growing pains. She was acting out and the things that had worked previously for us (charting positive behavior and earning entrance into the treasure box) weren’t working. I wouldn’t say that she was out of hand but for a person who values structure, she was going through a rather chaotic time. There was a new baby (whom she loves having around) and we were adjusting what our relationship was looking like. In all honesty, there were moments that I thought I was going to lose my mind. She was such an easy baby that I just wasn’t prepared for this phase we had entered.
As I wrote last week, I love the 5 Love Languages for Couples and my friend told me that Dr. Chapman had co-written a book with Dr. Ross Campbell to be applied to children ages 5 and older. Life. Changing. Book. The principles are the same but how you apply them to children is a little different.
This is my mini. This has been her since birth. Not that she doesn’t like her fair share of gifts but the way that she views and receives love is through Quality Time–which is what was causing the discord in our relationship. Mini and I used to spend a lot of time together just she and I. We would go on walks (she was my running partner… after I started doing 9+miles I had to ditch her though), go to church and brunch together, she was my partner in crime. But then her behavior changed and we stopped doing as much because I honestly didn’t want to take her out and have her act a fool embarrassing us both. I began resenting her a little and she began acting out. But I’m the parent. Our relationship and how my daughter grows is on me and the hubs–not her. I originally thought she was a Physical Touch little lover but I found that if we had sat and spent even 20 minutes of uninterrupted time together there was a world of difference in her behavior, how I felt about myself as a mother, and the amount of smiling she did.
Acts of Service
As you may remember, this is me all the way. But for kids this looks a little different. A child who is anchored in acts of service feels loved when people do nice things for them–think making their favorite snack, helping them with their chores, working with them on a school project. If a child is an Acts of Service lover, a couple of things as parents we can do to show them love is in being intentional about making a favorite meal. Or surprising them with a clean room or some other chore that is there. But being intentional about doing something that is specific for them will show them the love they need to see.
I think this one is probably the easiest to understand but always so easy as a parent to do. If a child loves to hug, snuggle or just be in constant connection, they are a physical touch lover. Naturally the best way to show them love is through hugs, holding hands, tickles, snuggling them. This is also really hard because of the issue of the inappropriate touch that has unfortunately become popular in today’s society. If your child sees love as physical touch, it’s important to teach them about good and bad touches early on to prevent them being taken advantage of but it’s just as important for you to make sure that YOU are showing them this love so they don’t seek it elsewhere.
Words of Affirmation
Everyone likes to hear that they are doing a good job but for some kids this is more important than others. The child rooted in Words of Affirmation likes to hear that they are doing a good job or I love you or that they are smart–but not the generic words. In order to make sure that this child feels love being specific about praise is important as is hearing the words “I love you” often. This can be tricky too because if you are hot-tempered and lash out verbally with your children, it can damage their psyche.
As parents I think we automatically think all of our children fall into this category since most days we all have to pry them away from the toy section of the store. But some kids do genuinely see the small gift that someone has gotten them as a sign of love. Giving your child a gift doesn’t mean that they have to get the newest iPhone or some other expensive present. A lot of times it’s the little things that mean so much to them. Taking a walk and picking a flower for them or bringing home a little trinket that’s special for them means the world. Be careful not to overcompensate an inability to love a child in their love language with gifts–though everyone loves presents, they may not see that as love.
Filling Your Child’s Cup O’Love
This sounds so esoteric but when your child is acting out, there cup is empty. If you think about how much easier it is for you to do things as an adult when you feel loved it makes perfect sense as to why we need to make sure that our children feel loved before they feel disciplined. It’s so much easier to listen to someone who’s telling you what to do when you feel as though you have a secure spot with them. Fill the cups with love daily. Granted we all have one language we understand more than others but all of them need to spoken to our children. Be intentional about loving them–they are our futures.
Need to know your child’s love language? Check the test out here.
Interested in reading the whole book? Grab it here.
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