Perhaps one of the greatest ways you can increase peace and love in your homes is to speak your child’s love language and empower siblings to do the same with each other.
INCREASING PEACE AND LOVE
Is sibling conflict breaking out in your home? It did in our house, and I AM SO GLAD! I am keeping our days moving by having a balance of rest, school, and movement. I got two of them settled on a project and took another for a brisk walk with the dog. While coming back inside the house, I could FEEL strife and knew there was conflict. My daughter came to me sobbing, telling me how she was mean to her sister and pushed her. Her tears were massive, and she was fully repentant, confessing her wrongdoings. I told her she was indeed wrong and that a consequence was appropriate, but that life was pretty hard these days, and I wanted her to spend an hour in her room alone processing and giving her heart a voice to herself. She is my easy-going, always smiling, glass-is-half-full child, and her heart needed to get real – life IS challenging right now. I moved to the other child involved, who flashed this massive smile across her face as I approached her. She did not know that I knew about the conflict. I asked how she was doing, and she said, “Great.” I said, “Really? How can you be doing great if your sister just pushed you?” and she burst into tears. I instructed her too to go into her room and spend an hour giving her heart a voice. She not only lied to me but herself. I went to her after a bit, and she began to unpack how her sister doesn’t like her and has been rude and disrespectful to her for days and that her heart was hurting. I went back to the offending child and asked what was going on, and she, too, broke down, telling of pains and hurts that have been piling up between them.
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.
The other day Ellie came to me and said, “I know I am loved, but I am just not feeling it today.” The following day I felt led to lavish on her through her language of love. She thanked me, and I told her, “I did not do that to love you. I did it to REMIND you that you are already loved.” As a busy parent, it is easy to feel pressure with the love languages as if it means our children are not loved or are lacking something essential if we don’t fill their tanks daily. The truth is they are ALREADY loved, and speaking their language stirs up what is already there. Take the pressure off yourself of ‘having to’ give your child what they need and view the love languages as a privilege to stir up, call forth and remind them of what was theirs all along.
Parents – you have homework! Love is a VERB. Grab some paper and begin to write notes to your child. So tuck them in their underwear drawer, by their toothbrush, in their favorite book. Let them find your nuggets of love!!!! You can do it for your children or have them do it for each other.
I often buy fun treats or trinket toys and give them to one of my children to give to their siblings, adding their own ‘creative flair’ to communicate love. For example, my oldest made some lovely notes for her siblings and put some sweet treats on their beds for them to come home to after school. I believe that by assisting them with ideas that communicate love to one another, they are strengthening their sibling relationships and learning how to communicate love to their friends, future spouse, and their children someday. I want them to be people who know how to love well!
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.
A mom mentioned: “When I read about children with the language of acts of service wanting you to help them, I thought of my daughter. An example would be me fixing her hair. Sometimes I don’t have time to help her and ask her to do it herself, and she does get upset actually.”
My response: I know you love her and show it through providing breakfast, clean clothes, and getting her to school, but can you increase doing it in a way that she values and understands? What if sending her to school with her hair done by you filled her tank in a way that empowered and helped her throughout the day to feel safe and secure? Would you want to do it then? She is giving you the keys to her heart. The amazing thing about children is that their hearts are small and fill so fast. A five-minute hair session can literally change her day! How can you create the time to communicate love to her? Can you wake up five minutes earlier? Can you braid it the night before? When you honestly cannot do it, how then can you communicate that you still love her without being able to do her hair?
Let’s slow this down for a moment. A child is asking for help because that is how their tank gets filled, and the parent to whom they are offering their heart begins to get upset and frustrated with them for not doing it themselves. They now walk away with a tank even lower than when they first asked. I KNOW this is not the goal of many parents, but this is what happens when we fail to understand *their* language. We have miscommunication and a breakdown of deposits in their heart. Hear the difference: “No, I already taught you how to tie your shoes. You be a big boy and do it by yourself. Stop fussing and get it done now. No, I will not help you. You are going to make me late. Hurry up,” VS. “Oh, buddy. I love that you want me to help you, and my heart really wants to, but I cannot right now. I need you to tie your shoes. I am so proud of you for the way you have mastered tying your shoes.” Can you hear the difference? One sees the heart and affirms them, while the other only sees the task. It isn’t a yes/no, you do it/I do it response. It is seeing their heart and making sure you are communicating and affirming your love for them.
Your child needs to know not only their own language but their siblings’. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family; they are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met. Many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to just separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their brother’s love language is and ask what she can do to fill it and vice versa. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention!
Of all the languages in the world, the most confusing is silence. Silence shouldn’t be a language we are communicating to our children as it opens them up to the enemy to fill in the blanks for them (and he will, it just won’t be something that brings life). Make it a point TODAY to intentionally tell your child how you feel about them!