I mentioned in an earlier post that I try to make Valentine’s Day about all those I care about, and that includes my kids. It’s also not about spending a ton of money. The main objective is to make a person feel loved or to try to make their day a bit better. It’s a great day for Random Acts of Kindness too! I talked about the 5 Love Languages in my previous post, and this is a follow up on it. However, instead of a romantic take on it, let’s see how we can apply it to our kids. Love, is, after all, for all those that are special in our lives.
1) Acts of Service
If you have a kid whose love language is acts of service, then what means the most to them is DOING something for them.
- Clean their room for them
- Make something for storage
- Do a chore that they are normally responsible for
- Make their bed
- Fix their lunch
- Fix their favorite thing for supper (and tell them “I fixed this for you because you really like it!”)
- Take them somewhere they have been asking to go (for example, my son likes to go to the bank to the coin counting machine to convert his change to cash. I always forget to do this until he’s out of school for a day and then he tells me it’s one of the things he wants to do on his day off)
2) Quality Time
This one is probably one of my son’s primary love languages. He will take ALL my time if I let him. He LOVES quality time. Many times, however, I find that the “quality” part is a bit lacking. I’m busy, or he asks me at entirely the wrong time (Like when I’m trying to multi-task 3 things already). I do try to make the time that we have together quality. It does not always happen, but I am getting better.
- Make a “date” with just them. This means alone time with one parent
- Take them skating – and skate with them!
- Bounce Houses – again… go with them; you know you want to; it’s fun!
- Take them to the park and put down the phone and watch them
- Go for ice cream and chat
- Watch a movie or cartoon together.
- Talk on the way back from somewhere instead of listening to music
- Play with them
- Take them with you when you run an errand
- Take the time to really LISTEN to them, even if they are going off on some subject you have absolutely no interest in
- Read a book together
- Go to church as a family
3) Words of Affirmation
These are words of praise or words of encouragement. They are very easy to give if we only take the time to do it.
- Tell your child what you are proud of them for
- Compliment your child’s clothing choice “That shirt looks really good on you!”
- Notice your child’s ability “You made a great shot in the basketball game today!”
- Compliment one of your child’s actions. “That was really kind of you to sit with the new kid at lunch today.”
- Tell your child that you love them
- Let them know that you believe in them
- Relate that they can do anything they set their mind to
- Assure your child that you will always be there for them and will love them no matter what
- Leave a note in their lunch box
- Write them a note to be read in the future. (I have a series of letters that I wrote to my boys when they were babies. They are full of mommy mushy stuff. I plan to give these to them when they are older)
These can get expensive fast if you are just thinking about new toys or clothes. Fortunately, this category encompasses much more than the expensive stuff! They key word here is “surprise!”
- If there has been something that your child has been saving up for that is fairly reasonably priced, let them get almost enough money to buy it, and then surprise them with it.
- Gift them with opportunities to earn money if there is something that they want.
- Get something at the grocery store just for them that they don’t normally get. (For my son, it’s Takis, which are REALLY hot little rolled up corn chips. If you like your taste buds, I recommend staying away. However, he loves hot stuff, so occasionally, I’ll buy a bag just for him)
- Chocolate (Oh wait… is that for me or the kids?) When I am grocery shopping with the kids, IF they are well behaved in the store, I let them pick out a candy bar in the checkout line. (A handy tip I learned from my mom!)
- Surprise breakfast
- Very occasionally, my husband will pick up a surprise for the boys while he is shopping. The looks on their faces are all the repayment he needs.
5) Physical Touch
Obviously, this one varies VERY much with the age of your child, but you never outgrow the need for some physical touch as a way to express affection.
- Hug your child (several times a day!)
- Pat on the back
- Hair ruffle
- Put your hand on your child’s shoulder
- Hold them in your lap
- Let them sit beside you
- Rock them
- Kiss the top of their head (every morning before the school bus comes. Better enjoy this one while they are still short enough for me to reach! Ha!)
- Hold hands and pray together (every night before bed)
- Cuddle while watching tv or reading a book
“ We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” – A famous quote by psychotherapist Virginia Satir
Here is a great post from another source on the medical benefits of hugs. Pretty amazing stuff!
Other Tips and Tricks
Stop being critical
This one is all on me here. Often I get to thinking about what my son needs to improve on and what he should be doing, and what can be done better. Before I realize it my “helpful” comments have turned into criticisms that tear him down instead of building him up. That is certainly not what I intend, but that’s still what happens.
He had one basketball game where his confidence was shot, and I could tell it. He kept messing up over and over. I had all kinds of “advice” for him in my mind after the game, pointing out where he messed up and what he should have done instead, but I caught myself. I held my tongue. He already knew that he could have done better and was likely already beating himself up with it. He didn’t need his mother slamming him over the head with it again.
Ask them for help
Sometimes there is so much going on I feel like one of those oriental acrobats that spins the plates on top of poles and if they are not all kept moving they fall off. Sometimes I NEED to stop trying to do it all myself and enlist the help of my kids. They may not LIKE what I ask them to do, but that’s ok. We are a family and we are all in this life together. Sometimes, there is just not the time to empty the dishwasher while I am trying to cook and check homework and do laundry. I can’t handle another plate. Asking them to help gives them a sense of pride and responsibility. It also helps to teach them how to do things.
As a kid, I was responsible for emptying and loading the dishwasher. The deal was that I loaded the dirty supper dishes into the dishwasher and started it as one of my chores. Anything that I could not get into the dishwasher correctly, I had to wash by hand. Let me tell you, I can load a dishwasher like a BOSS now! This chore also gave me some time to talk to my Mom while I was working.
Stop being busy ALL the time
I know, you have a ton of things to do! When you are busy ALL the time, you shut yourself off from your kids. They need you to be there not just in body, but they need some of your attention and emotional investment too. Carve out some time just to be there with them. Some “Time-IN” if you will.
Slow down and listen
This one goes hand in hand with the last one. When you are not busy all the time, you can slow down and listen to your kid. My 10-year-old will not always tell me everything that I want to know, especially about his friends and such. (You know, the things I WANT to hear about). An amazing thing happened the other day though. I went out while he was practicing basketball and started just shooting with him. As we were shooting and practicing, he started telling me all this stuff! It was amazing! Even though I am not a big sports person, I have decided that I like basketball after all, if nothing else just for golden opportunities like that one. I may not care anything about basketball, but I do care a great deal about my son.
Think about the things that your kid does well
We all have strengths and weaknesses. How boring would it be if we all did everything equally well? Concentrate and think about the things that your kids do well. Funny thing is that you tend to find what you are looking for. If you see a bunch of faults and failures, those are what will be emphasized. However, when you concentrate on the good things and the strengths that is what you will start seeing more of. A friend of mine once told me “Our job as mothers is to celebrate our kids’ strengths and to help their weaknesses.” When you concentrate more on the positive, your kids’ self-confidence sky-rockets and many times those weaknesses are strengthened.
However you do it, I hope that you will find a way to tell your child how special they are and how much they are loved. This is not only for Valentine’s Day, of course, but for every day. Our children do so much better when they have loving support at home. What are some other ways that you show your child that they are loved and special? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear your tips and tricks!