Sending messages of love
Every child (and adult) needs to be reminded often that they are loved and valued.
Every child needs to be reminded often that people love and value them. Often we get busy and forget to send messages of love to our children. Unfortunately, we often send messages poorly or we send only angry messages.
Sometimes we send a message of love, but the child does not get it. It is as though we are talking different languages. That is because there are at least three “languages” of love: Showing, telling and touching. Here are examples of each.
A child who likes “show me” messages of love may want you to do things with him or her. They may want you to take a bike ride together, go for a nature walk together, or work on hobbies together. A “tell me” child wants to hear the words like: “I love you.” “You’re important to me.” “I sure enjoy being with you.” A “touch me” child may want a parent to hug, rock, cuddle with them, or hold their hand.
So how does a parent learn what language of love their child will receive the best? Start by noticing what your child asks for. Does he want time, attention, a listening ear, materials for hobbies, to go on outings? Next notice the way your child sends messages of love to you and others. Do they tell you, hug you, write you notes, clean up the house? Observing these things can help you know how to be more effective at sending messages to a given child.
Children often enjoy even jobs that seem like “work” if they provide a special time to be with the parent. Many times these situations also provide teaching moments. For example, a child might feel important if allowed to go grocery shopping with a parent, especially if the child is allowed to help. You are also providing a life skill along the way because you are teaching them how to count, find items that match coupons and even math skills by calculating the best deal. It’s important to find effective ways of showing love to each of your children.
The child who is hard to love needs love as much as any child. Be sure to find effective ways to send love to that child also.
One of the challenges in sending effective messages of love is being aware of what’s important to the child. Take a few minutes to think about each of your children and how they may receive messages of love. Make a plan of how you will send those messages of love to each of your children (as well as significant others) in the coming weeks.
Children want to know that they are loved and valued by their parents. We can be effective at sending messages regularly, schedule special times with them, and avoid letting anger block our messages. For more information on healthy relationships go to Michigan State University Extension website.