If you have followed Let the Children Fly for long, you know that I am a big promoter of knowing and filling your child’s love tank. How many adults walk around with unmet needs waiting for someone to fill them? It is a lonely and isolating experience. The sad thing is few people can read your mind to know what you need. I have been very diligent in not only teaching my children about their love language but how to discern when they are feeling low, isolated, or disconnected and how to get their needs met in a HEALTHY, proactive way. Typically when their tanks are low, there is an increase of bickering, conflict, bad moods, agitation, and strife. While I went after character training, I also helped them to be PROACTIVE with their needs so that it doesn’t get to that point. Hudson came to me one morning and said, “Hey Mom, I set up a game of cards for us.” Truth be told, the timing wasn’t great, as I had a lot to do, but I had eyes to see that my son could have cared less about cards and was really saying, “Hey Mom, my love tank is low, and I want you to fill it before I go to school.” Yep! I can make time for you, son.
FILL THOSE TANKS
Sibling connection is important, yet without tools, language, or empowerment to create a peaceful environment, sibling conflict can be a great source of chaos in many homes.
Children with the love language of gifts are often viewed as materialistic. They are not really wanting the gift itself, but your love spoken through the gift. It is communicating the message, “I was thinking of you.” A Hershey’s kiss, balloon, or note on a gum wrapper has profound meaning to a person with this language. They look at your object as a token or symbol of being loved.
Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Make birthdays and holidays a huge deal. **Bring home small tokens from shopping trips (“I bought your favorite fruit”). **Celebrate milestones such as losing a tooth, getting good grades, overcoming a challenge. **Tuck notes in their lunch bag, under their pillow, or in their laundry. **Give them a dollar or two to spend at the store – just because. **Cook their favorite meal. **Pick out a rock or flower on your walk and return home with it. **Buy a package of Hershey kisses and intentionally play a game of spontaneously putting them where they can discover them. It took me a month to empty the bag, but she felt so loved and seen. **Keep a small stash of inexpensive gifts. When you see your child struggling, working through hurts, or just having a hard day pull something out.
I must note that the worst thing you can do for this person is to be flippant about it. Thoughtless gift-giving is like a harsh tone for a word of affirmation person. If your heart is not in it, you might want to hold off on giving it. Oftentimes they are givers of gifts too and like to leave notes, save souvenirs from trips, parties, and outings (like the napkin from the party or an empty container from the Tic Tacs that you bought them). When they give gifts of any kind to others, help them to make the connection between their action and speaking love, such as, “I love that you want to tell your sister you love her by leaving her that note.” “Thank you for loving me by giving me that flower.” Again, the focus is not on the item/gift; it is on the heart need and communication of love. Learn to value lavishing on others as it models a side of our Father, the Creator of the universe who owns the storehouse and lavishes richly on His children. Often when people were raised with a poverty spirit or parents who had fear over finances, this language can be challenging to speak. However, God uses this language in our children to re-align our thoughts and heart back to Him. I get this every time we talk about gifts – “So that means I just have to buy them whatever they want?” Of course not! But it does mean you would be wise to see what they are really asking for. They are saying, “Will you show me you love me by buying this for me?” In those moments, the key to their heart is discovering how you can tell them “No” in a way that still fills their heart.
A mom currently taking our Kingdom parenting online class shares this powerful revelation: “I believe I had a revelation the other day. You touched on it in today’s lesson when you said, ‘If you find that you are having a hard time getting your child interested in releasing the Kingdom, don’t turn it into a legalistic battle of wills. Instead, focus on your relationship with them.’ I need to work on our relationship. I’ve been focused on being their teacher, disciplinarian, trainer, and encourager, but not the mom who loves and plays well.”
My friend shared: “Our oldest was having a hard time tonight. Overtired, over being quarantined, whatever the reason, he was really struggling. My husband swooped in and gave him a hug that lasted probably 5 minutes. And all was well in the world again. As parents, knowing when a timeout or other discipline is needed is a skill. Or when it’s time for a long, wordless, healing hug, I’m thankful to witness my husband parent our kids this way – and I’m grateful that the Father of heaven also parents us with such kindness.”
Parenting these kiddos can be a mixed bag. They care deeply not so much about what is being said but HOW it is said. They can get their hearts hurt easily by tones and harshness. Yet they come alive and are rejuvenated by words alone. I am convinced God gave us children with this wiring so that the rest of the family can learn how to walk in love, even when they are upset and frustrated. As a parent, I have had to grow and anchor myself to Proverbs 31:26 – “When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says.” This has also been a great training ground for the other children in learning how to tone their speech. I have learned to be sensitive to how my son is responding. If I sense a wall is being built and he is isolating himself, it is generally because he got his heart hurt. It generally just takes a “Who do you need to forgive?” and the offense is revealed. This is also my child who beams ear to ear with a kind word, verbally noticing his effort, calling out the good, and telling others about him in front of him.
Your child’s language of love is one of your biggest parenting tools for your tool belt because love conquers ALL.
Learning to love your children well provides YOU with an opportunity to know and reflect a SIDE of Jesus. Example: If your child has a love language of quality time and values playing together, but you do not value childlike play, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Example: If your child has a love language of words of affirmation and you do not value speaking mushy words, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about using your words, building others up, and bringing praise to your lips. Example: If your child has a love language of touch, but you do not value affection, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about receiving healthy and appropriate touch. Example: If your child has a love language of acts of service, but you do not value having to do things for them, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Pressing in and learning how to speak THEIR language allows US to grow in being more like HIM.
Do you have preschoolers or toddlers at home who are extra whiny and demanding? Consider that older siblings are now home from school and your time and attention are not fully on them anymore. This is a big deal to small children, and their hearts matter, too.
Your child is hungry to learn and hear your personal stories. Your journey will shape them significantly, and your story’s chapters will be valuable to them. Share with them your experiences as it relates to their world. Tell them about a time you dealt with or struggled with the same thing they are walking through. Share with them what you have learned through your own mistakes. Tell them about your God encounters and what Jesus has said to you. You are not their royal emperor dictating from a throne. You are their parent – empowering, equipping, and leading them face-to-face.
I can assure you that when your child’s love tank is low, you are going to smell the fumes somewhere! Adults have learned (not-so-healthy) coping mechanisms to pretend that a low tank is still running just fine, but a child will not. Kids don’t need oceans full twice a year; they need continuous drops. I encourage you to sit down and write out at least ten easy, simple ways you can speak your children’s specific love language. This will help you to stay proactive in filling their tanks, even when your plate is full. I cannot tell you how many times a “Hey bud, go set up a game of cards, and I will play a round with you,” can change their heart, attitude, and the atmosphere of our home.