Someone gave Hudson a can of pop (or soda, as some of you say), and his sister commented how lucky he was. The next day he used his own money to get her one and put it on her bed with a note. It touched me deeply because, in all honesty, this isn’t his normal expression. A few days later, I inquired with him what motivated him to be so gracious and kind. He said, “Oh, she wanted to spend time with me the other day.” I have said it before, and I will say it again. TEACHING CHILDREN THEIR SIBLINGS LOVE LANGUAGES MATTERS. Siblings get their sense of belonging from each other, and when their tank is full, they naturally pour out love.
Do not just take my word for it. Hear what moms and dads around the globe are saying about their own experience learning how to speak their child’s language.
“It is so true that when there is conflict, it is usually because a love tank is low. However, we often see it as a discipline issue, and when we punish, we withdraw from it more. I like seeing that visual image of it – it all makes sense now! We determined what love language each of our kids gravitate towards & made an intentional effort to fill them. The results were immediate & noticeable! It was as if their cup was running over & they had extra to share. Really neat! I’ve been spending 5-10 mins extra in the morning connecting with my 3yo (‘filling’ his love tank), and our transitions to daycare in the morning have been seamless. In the past, he struggled with that transition and would scream, cry, and cling to us as we tried to leave. Now he gives us a hug and a kiss goodbye and is then excited to go play with his friends! Teaching them to know not only their own but also their siblings’ is brilliant! Filling their bucket is so important. I need to be as intentional about that as I am about making sure they eat their fruits and vegetables. Ha! I am really seeing the need to take time out in the day with my busy work at home and make sure each child gets their tank filled. I have seen where I have not been laying myself down in this area and getting worn out. I even feel like if I can make some sacrifices to do this, I will feel more rested because the kids won’t be as demanding. I am so excited to try and teach my kids about the love languages for sibling rivalry. It makes so much sense. Thank you for planting the seed that when siblings are fighting, love tanks are low. I see the importance for all of us to know each other’s love language! A lot of times when our daughter starts acting out, we know that she is really just needing attention and connection. However, what she usually wants to do is spend quality time playing games, reading books, etc. While this is fine for me at times, I tend to be a pretty solitary person, so actively engaging all the time can be quite difficult when all I’m craving is some peaceful, quiet time alone. That said, I need to start doing these things because I don’t want her to be missing out on connecting with me just because it’s uncomfortable for me. We had this emphasized. Our 5yo was spiraling down when I arrived at the friend’s house she’d been staying with while I ran errands. The simple act of me offering a hug and giving the gift of sharing my tea was enough for her to be able to relax and be happy. Hubby has noticed that on the days he makes a conscious effort to play with each girl when he gets home from work, it makes a huge difference. Love this lesson! I asked all of my kids what they thought their love languages were, and they each identified a different one, and we had a great conversation about how we give and receive love. The hardest one for me is ‘gifts,’ and my middle one has that one. This really encourages me to keep finding ways to connect with my kids through THEIR love language and not my own!”
The sense of belonging is something we all crave. It was given by God to Adam and Eve but lost when they exited Eden. God gives us families who know us intimately and provide a safe place where we can grow and learn. When that safety or trust is broken – physically or emotionally – it affects our core need to belong. Sibling relationships are where children get their greatest sense of belonging, so guarding this connection is important. When there is a conflict between two siblings, the enemy whispers, “You do not belong,” and a child who believes they do not belong will act like they do not belong. Explain this and ask if they have ever felt like they didn’t belong. Share a story from when you were a child and felt that way.
In the days ahead, when you hear siblings being rough and unkind to each other lovingly, go to them and ask them, “Are you communicating to your family that they belong?” “How can you speak to them in a way that assures them they matter?” I often say to my children, “You can express yourself in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they don’t belong.”
I went on a date with my son, and he broke down and told me how unkind Lauren had been to him all over the dog. We got home, and I asked her about it, and she didn’t express much care about it. The following morning, we talked about it again as a family, but her response was cool and casual as if to communicate she had no intention of changing (insert trigger moment for Mom when siblings are unkind to each other). She came to me a couple of times throughout the day and said she would ‘try harder,’ but this wasn’t about behavior management, as this issue has been there on some level since the day we got Boo. I told her she needed to fight harder for her freedom and that I was there to help, but she had to own it. By that evening, she asked if we could talk. She said she was upset with Hudson. About what? That he would do something that would harm the dog. I asked what she was afraid would happen if Boo was hurt. She said, “That he would be put down.” I assured her that would not be pleasant, but the reality is she will outlive the dog, and at some point, she will have to say goodbye. She agreed. I asked if she was feeling more compassion for Boo being in pain, that she had to let go of him or that she would have to deal with the aftermath of missing him every day, and with that, a burst of emotions came flooding over her. She was not afraid of losing him; she was afraid of longing for him. Instantly my mind recalled how she processed when she lost her dad. She was angry for a while and then just came to accept it. What I failed to realize at the time was that she was stewarding an unmet longing for him. She, like many people, despised the feeling of longing for something that you can’t have, and there was a part of her heart that jumped in to protect her from feeling that ever again. She wasn’t controlling Hudson. She was trying to protect herself from having to feel the longing for something you want and desire but can’t have. As her mom, I get a lump in my throat even writing that. She has gotten into a lot of conflict over the years for her ‘controlling’ behavior over her siblings with the dog, yet all along, she was scared of losing him like she did her dad. She was able to repent for her attempt to control and manage Hudson’s actions. She asked Jesus to forgive her for trying to do His job of protecting her heart and Boo’s life. She had a greater revelation that it is God and God alone who holds Boo’s life in His hands, and He already has Boo’s life figured out from beginning to end. I asked her if she could have faith that God also cares about Hudson and that He didn’t want Hudson to do something to Boo that would cause him to be put down and the profound way that would affect his relationship with Lauren. That God is protective over leading Hudson too. She began to cry and said she had never thought of that and suddenly felt compassion for him. Hudson isn’t the enemy here – her fear is.
Thank You, Jesus, that You parent our hearts and see what is really going inside of us. She didn’t need a consequence for her unkind behavior. She needed an encounter with a Father who has never left or forsaken her, who sees and hears her heart and cares deeply about what she holds dear. Okay, I might be crying myself after sharing that testimony of you.
I have a great teaching tool with magnets for parents to teach children about the pull of connection in our hearts. I was so excited when I received this testimony from a mom taking our class. Kids understand this language!
“For the last two days, my son has shown me how magnets attract one another… I had not done this demonstration of attraction with him yet. Thank You, Father, for opening a door for sharing that beautiful lesson. A little later in the day, my son told me I was pushing him away like a magnet. Boom! Yes, son, I was. I’m sorry. Here is what you were needing. The way you were asking for it pushed me away. Let’s flip our magnets and connect again.”
My friend Amber shared: “Holy Spirit gave me insight into my three kids and showed me that sometimes there’s a disconnect with my oldest because I am judging her. He showed me how her new school overwhelms her, how she feels like I’m not listening to her, and that one of her love languages is acts of service, so the ‘bossiness’ and constantly asking for this or that is her way of connecting.”
When all my children entered formal school for the first time, it was a huge deal for them. They got inundated with many new things all at once. My goal for the two weeks leading up to it was simply focusing on their love tanks. The more they experience love at home, the more they will be able to handle what comes their way. Isn’t that true for you? Are you a better parent on the days when you and your spouse have conflict and are feeling detached? I bet not. Love languages matter!
A mom shared how her girls were at it all day. Cranky, mean, and unkind words. She had them soak in God’s presence and taught them that their hearts are like a sponge. We spend time with Jesus so we can drip His love on others. Later they brought out their journals, and the sister had so much to say about her younger sister to encourage and lift her up. No person feels good when there is sibling conflict, and sometimes we need an extra dose of Jesus to help move us from bickering back to kindness.
Jesus, fill our hearts to overflowing so that we may love each other the way You intended.
Grab a plastic set of ABC’s or a box of ABC crackers. Place them in the center in a pile and have everyone sit in a circle. Each player picks up a letter from the pile and has to give a word that starts with that letter about the person next to them. “A” – Ellie is always smiling. “B” – Hudson is brilliant at playing games. “C” – Lauren is caring with her dog. This helps children to get their eyes off of themselves, learn how to release words of encouragement over others and see those around them. Not to mention that after the game, everyone’s love tanks are filled to overflowing.
I am passionate about the languages of love! But do you know there is also a language of how you need an apology spoken? Nothing is worse for me than someone saying, “Sorry!” It actually makes the offense worse for me. We have a family of FIVE, and there are FIVE languages – one for each of us. It has been challenging to speak someone else’s language, but it has allowed us to be more like Jesus in the process. I encourage you to have your family take the test, print it out, and discuss the results.