The hard thing about a child’s heart is that it is small and empties quickly. The good thing about a child’s heart is that it is small and fills fast. Be intentional about filling them back up again today!
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!
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.
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.
My mom used to drive around in an old Chevy Monte Carlo with a bumper sticker that read, “Have you hugged your kid today?” I used to think it was awesome that she had a reminder each time she got in the car. I longed for her embrace as it made me feel wanted, safe and seen. Sadly, hugs were few and far between, but they still held a tremendous value. I want to ask YOU, “Have you hugged your kid today?”
Homework – Make it a goal to reach out and offer a hug to your child at least THREE times today. Set a reminder in your phone, do it before/after each meal, or when they ask for something. Be intentional and hug those kids today!
I was completely engaged in worship one Sunday morning when I heard the Lord say, “I like hip hop.” It was so out of the blue. I heard it again and was like, “Okay. That’s great.” When I heard it a third time, the revelation came. I was raised in a good ole Lutheran church, and in my home, you wouldn’t be caught dead going to church in anything other than your Sunday best which included black patent leather shoes. I had come a long way, but I still had a deeply ingrained belief about what clothing did and did not look appropriate for church. My daughter had slipped her bright pink sneakers on without me noticing until we got to church, and I had scolded her, saying they weren’t appropriate church shoes. I had to humbly repent of partnering with the religious spirit because apparently Jesus likes hip hop and thinks bright pink shoes are just fine in His house!
Be still for a moment and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of what makes Your heart happy?” Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because they get to witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual healing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.
This is in response to the many questions I get about toddlers who are regressing or acting out when the new baby comes home. I had 14-month-old twins when their brother was born, so I went after making sure they felt secure. It is a big deal for a child to have their birth order changed. Think about it – they are the only ones who get Mom’s attention; she leaves for a few days and comes back with a new baby she is with all the time. Often, Mom is recovering physically, and others intentionally keep the older child away from Mom so she can rest. This is confusing to a child, and they can surely build up resentment toward their new sibling. One thing that was super helpful was the ‘5-minute dates’ with the twins when I knew Hudson would need me for feedings and such. I would bring them to the floor with me, and we would spend quality time together. If Hudson started to cry, I would say out loud, “Oh no, not now, Hudson. Lauren and Emma are very special to me, and I am spending time with them now. You will have to wait.” Of course, you don’t make a newborn wait long, but they have no concept of time. I was communicating to them that the baby has not replaced them, and they are still so valued and important to me. But then I would tell them it was Hudson’s turn and that they needed to play by my feet, watch a movie, read a book, etc. If they wanted juice or help when I was feeding Hudson, I reminded them it was his turn, and they had to wait. I intentionally filled them up like this for many days after we brought him home, and the transition was smooth for all.
Morning School routine for a child: Get dressed – Eat breakfast – Chores – Brush teeth.
Morning School routine for a parent: Fill their love tank – Create pockets of JOY – Remind them of who they are – Fight for peace.
Before you send your child out into the world, arm them with: A belly full of healthy food – A mind anchored in the truth – A heart tank overflowing with love.
My daughter got in the car, and I asked her why she broke my favorite mug. She had a shocked look on her face and was trying to process how to respond. I asked her again why she broke my mug. Finally, she said with almost tears in her eyes, “Mom, I promise I didn’t break it.” I assured her I knew because the mug wasn’t broken, but I reminded her that just moments before, she was accusing her brother of something I did, not him. Instantly she understood how awful it felt to be falsely accused of something. She apologized, and we had a good chat about not being so quick to formulate judgment until you have all the facts.
Proverbs 18:13 (The Message) – “Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.”
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) – “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.”
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!