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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Your child’s language of love is one of your biggest parenting tools for your tool belt because love conquers ALL.
Whenever we endure something big such as a stressful season, a death, a move, etc., my main goal is to make sure I am filling their love tanks intentionally. I was really sick years ago with a ripped artery in my neck. I was on blood thinners and was at high risk for a stroke or aneurysm. It was not an easy season being a solo mom of four young, active children. I literally made myself a chart with each child’s name and the days of the week. I forced myself to speak their love language DAILY. I believe it is one of the biggest reasons we got through those rough waters together with our connection intact. Love covers a multitude of bumps and bruises! When in doubt, I fill the tank. Love languages matter!
Have you taught your children about love? We can’t expect what we do not first teach in times of peace. I love what this mom shares in our class. Have each family member take the online quiz, print out the results, and spend time talking about what each one looks like.
“It was so helpful for our family to discuss and identify together each other’s love languages. I’m excited to see how God will use this understanding of how we individually receive love to grow our relationships with one another!! I want to be intentional about daily having this awareness of filling my children’s love tanks in a way that speaks to them.”
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.
Have you ever seen a plant that just desperately needs a drink? My daughter looked that way to me, so I told the others to find something to do for 30 minutes while I had an in-home date with her. I told her to meet me in the rec room in 5 minutes. She had no idea what was happening but was waiting for me. I walked in, handed her a drink, and told her I just wanted her all to myself for a few moments. Then, I asked her about her heart, life, friends, and school. When we were done 15 minutes later, her comment was, “I feel so alive.”
Just because we are with our kids ALL the time doesn’t mean we have their hearts. Ask Holy Spirit how you can creatively water their heart today in a unique and meaningful way.
The child with the love language of quality time is filled up the most when they get your undivided attention. Nothing makes them come more alive than having you all to themselves.
Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Cook together (meals have to be done either way, why not do it together). **Try a new hobby together. **Go on a walk together. **Set up a movie (theater or home) for just you two. **Schedule a weekly date. **Play a game with them. **Take them on a lunch date without any other siblings. **Bake cookies together. **Play catch in the yard together. **Have an overnight trip together.
These are the children who like to follow you around. They don’t really care what you are doing as long as you are together. As they get older, they are the ones who volunteer to go on errands with you just to be together. For a parent, this can be challenging to steward because, no matter how much time you spent with them yesterday, they will want to be with you again today. Because being together is so important to them, if they do not get their needs met, they are generally the ones who act out or toe the line just to wave a flag so that you see them. When you see them agitating siblings, do not separate them. Help them connect by spending quality time together. A great way to be proactive is to make sure every day you are carving out intentional time to spend alone with this child. It does not have to be hours, but a calculated five-minute date can water their heart deeply. While it may be a challenge, I strongly encourage you to fit this into your morning routine on school days. It has the power to radically change their ability to learn, pay attention, and connect well with teachers and friends.
One of the worst things you can do to this person is create an expectation of alone time with you but then be distracted by your phone. It is super isolating for this person to be with you but not with you. Remember, it is okay if our child’s needs stretch and grow us to become more like Jesus. The goal is not to see how little you can water their hearts; the goal is to allow their needs to refine, align, and heal the things in us that were lost or stolen. Spending quality time with a child has the power to ignite joy, enter rest, learn how to play, and increase our childlike faith.