Most parents believe they're pretty good at communicating love toward their children. But did you know that saying “I love you” only begins the process of communicating your love for your child?
There are some important communication practices to consider. For example, has your child ever said they were hungry and you told them they weren't because they just ate? When kids say things like this and parents discount or correct the feeling, children think they can’t trust their own feelings and judgment. They also believe they need to rely on someone else to tell them what they think and feel. This can be very dangerous.
Validating a child’s feelings helps them feel important and loved.
When parents want to raise capable children who think, solve problems and care for others, it's important for them to trust their feelings. Instead of discounting a child’s expression of anger or feeling tired, ask questions that will lead them to talk about their feelings, such as, “Tell me what you are angry about.” Or, “You just woke up from your nap, do you think you need to sleep a little longer or do you think you just aren’t quite awake yet?”
In an effort to show love, parents often give their child what fills their own emotional fuel tank. For instance, if a parent loves receiving gifts and that really replenishes their tank, they may show love to their child by giving them gifts. But, gifts may not mean as much to that child as a big bear hug, which is the language of physical touch. In turn, the parent may become frustrated because the child does not respond to the gifts like the parent expected.
Several books have been written about the languages of love. Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages of Children, lists the love languages as:
Acts of service,
Words of affirmation,
Chapman asserts that speaking a child’s primary love language can fill the child’s emotional fuel tank much more effectively.
Although parents need to speak all five love languages to their child, one language usually speaks louder than any other. Once a parent knows the child’s primary love language, this language can more effectively motivate, discipline and teach their child.
In a world where many children seem confused and are looking for love in all the wrong places, parents have the opportunity to give a wonderful gift. Learning their child’s love language and speaking it often will truly say, “I love you.”