Many, many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their love 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/sister’s love language is and ask what they 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 like kids starving for attention!
Do you love your child? I realize that is a silly question to ask a mom, but if you were to ask children many would report they don’t feel like they are loved. Love is what we feel for them, but we have to be empowered in how to get that love OUT of our hearts and into THEIRS.
Go to The Love Language™ Quiz (5lovelanguages.com) with your child and have them complete the online Love Language quiz for children over the age of five (under five needs all of the languages spoken). Print out their results and spend time connecting by coming up with a list of 15 ways you can speak love in their language. This is important because if you don’t know what love looks like, you can spend years pouring your heart out, but to them, it sounds like a foreign language, and they don’t understand it. Speaking it the way they *need* it spoken is like getting a bullseye right into their heart. Do not get overwhelmed by this as a ‘one more thing I have to do.’ Chances are you are already doing many things to show your love for them. Wouldn’t you rather invest your energy where it was actually being deposited rather than unaccounted for? Also, many of you are dealing with issues with your children that are draining you greatly (attitudes, walls, anger, disrespect, poor grades, lack of attention, etc.) and nothing shifts circumstances more than going after their heart (above circumstances and behavior) and filling them with love. The Word says if you have everything, but have no love, you have nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). This tells us love has to be a foundation above everything else.
The challenging thing about a child’s heart is that they are small and EMPTY quick, but the good things about a child’s heart are that they are small and FILL fast. Children often come home from school with lowered love tanks and not only need a snack to nourish their bellies but love to fill their heart tank. This will improve the way they interact with their siblings, respond to you, as well as, how they perform in school. Like watering a wilted plant, they come to life no matter what they have been through when watered with love in a language they can understand. The difference between a wound and a hurt is how much love they received in the midst of their circumstances. Your love as their mom is the greatest balm you smear on anything that happens to them, but you have to know what that balm looks like to them. Set a reminder in your phone to go off daily as a reminder to fill their heart’s love tank. This is one investment you can’t afford to neglect in your child’s life. Love is essential to thriving!
When I had four kids under 4, including twins, the one area that drove me nuts was sharing. The constant need to referee who had what toy and someone else crying over it was a full-time job! I remember thinking there was no way I would survive 18 years of this. God gave me a great solution which we named the ‘2-minute rule’. Anytime someone wanted something you had, you ONLY had two responses, “Yes!” and be a joyful giver on the spot, or you could say, “In 2 minutes,” which taught the other person to be patient. It was a win/win situation. No need for tears because they were empowered with how to handle the situation. When conflict broke out, I would go back and help guide them back to the two options, and peace would resume. To this day, I am able to reap the fruit of this because their character had a chance to grow in the midst of conflict.
What is something in your house causing chaos? Ask Holy Spirit to give you a creative way to equip your children to handle the situation and aid in their character development.
We were at the pool one day, and Hudson sneaked up behind Emma, who was sitting by the edge, not wanting to get wet. He motioned to me if he could throw her in. I responded, “You can, but will it help your connection with her?” He took a second to realize the joy of the victory would not be worth the splash it would make in their connection. I have taught my children over and over and over that the way they treat each other today will affect tomorrow. It may feel ‘good’ to be powerful today, but tomorrow you will reap the fruit of a low account with them.
“My son turned five last week. His primary love language is words of affirmation. So, I had an idea to make a little ‘guest’ book for everyone coming to his birthday party. I had everyone write something to him – one thing they love about him. After his party, we sat and read everyone’s words to him – he loved it! No birthday meltdowns. Just told me at the end of the night, ‘My love tank is overflowing!'”
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.
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!
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.
Sibling conflict can be used for good as it is God’s training ground to raise healthy solid adults. Your job as a parent is not just to break up fights but help empower your children to have the skills to love those around them well.
Video – Sibling Conflict – YouTube
My son deeply needs to connect with his family. It is beautiful yet developing the skills can be messy at times. I was away on a ministry trip while he stayed at a friend’s house for the weekend. I reminded the girls he would need to reconnect upon returning, and they eagerly created plans to connect. About an hour later, I got a text saying he walked away and didn’t want to play anymore. I called to check in with him and asked if he felt like the girls were connecting with him, and he said, “NO!” Upon inquiring with the girls, they recited that they grabbed his favorite meal, ate together, and played games. In other words, they gave him a gift and quality time. I asked them what his language was, and they both realized immediately that it was words of affirmation. I asked if they affirmed him with their words, and they realized they labored so hard to connect at that moment, but through their language, not his. This is a classic example of people’s hearts in the right place, wanting to intentionally love someone else but missing the boat because they are speaking the wrong language.