The holiday season is a time of love. Love is what I’d like to talk about on this blog post. I think love for our children is a natural response. The experts say that our body releases a hormone at the time of birth that is known as the “love” hormone thereby ensuring the love of the parent for their offspring. But, Dad’s love their children fiercely too even without that extra burst of hormone.
But, love is tricky, isn’t it? We love our children but we don’t always interact with them lovingly. We love them but we don’t always know the child’s language of love. So, the child doesn’t always feel loved.
It’s one thing to make mistakes and then ask forgiveness from your child and do better next time. Our child still feels loved. It’s another thing to make the same mistake over and over and over and especially if that mistake is abusive. Our child doesn’t feel loved and in most people’s vocabulary we would not say the parent loves the child. But, we know that hurt people, hurt people. Parents are people too. The parent has some unresolved pain and that’s why they are behaving that way. They love but they don’t act lovingly.
How can we get in touch with what is actually love? What actions actually show and express our love to our children? How can we know what our child’s language of love is so we express it in a way that feels like love to them?
First, Psychologists talk about stages of development. Meeting the needs of each stage is an act of love because each time a parent meets the healthy need of a child at the stage they are in they are helping the child to become healthy and whole. So meeting your child’s social, emotional, behavior, physical need is an important aspect of love.
Secondly, physical touch is often associated with love. In fact, studies have shown that babies who are not held do not thrive. Yes, babies who are not touched actually die. Soft touches, hugs, and kisses all express a feeling of love. Touch is an important need. Similarly, words of love and encouragement are acts of love. We know ourselves how important it is to actually hear someone we care about say, “I love you” and not just expect us to know that from their actions. Tell your child you love them often. Encouragement is important as a child’s self-esteem and sense of themselves is based on what a parent says about them. If we as their parent encourage them with positive words such as, “you are bright,” “you are kind,” “you have this,” etc we are sowing seeds of a positive self-image.
And third, spending time with your child shows you value and love them. There’s the Cats In The Cradle song that shows us how important spending time with your child is to the relationship. Children need and want your attention. We are tired and we think we just can’t give of ourselves anymore at the end of a long day, but if we push ourselves to play a sport with our child outside or a board game or an electronic game with our child, we will find ourselves energized. It’s often during these times that children will share something with you that they may have never shared with you if you were sitting down talking to them or if you never asked about it.
As we interact with our child in loving ways, we will get to know them and what they respond to best. In this way, we will learn their language of love. Start now, in this wonderful season of love, to show your child how much you really do love them!