SPEAK UP

SPEAK UP

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!

HEARTWORK

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.

BROTHERLY LOVE

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.

NOT SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE

A mom shared: “My husband was verbally praising one of our daughters. Just moments later, she was in an angry outburst toward one of her siblings. When we asked her what was going on inside her after we had just spent the time telling her how wonderful she was, she responded, ‘Words of affirmation is my lowest love language. You guys saying all that great stuff about me didn’t do anything for me.’ Yikes! But she was right and honest. It was a big wake-up call.” 

Lisa’s response: May I add to that? Intentionally filling her up with a different language triggered her because it reminded her that *her* language was not being spoken. It is like you are craving chocolate, and someone gives you a fish. Fish is good for you, but it triggers your longing for chocolate. While words of affirmation is always a good thing, because her tank was low, it actually had a negative effect. I think that is what was behind her anger at that moment. Love that she was able to articulate it so well and that you could hear her heart. Go for her language to get a bulls-eye into her heart.

QUALITY TIME

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.

BIRTH ORDER

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.

GIFTS

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.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

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.

PHYSICAL TOUCH

We all need touch, but for those who have the language of touch, it is super easy to fill their tank! 

Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Put your hand on their shoulder when speaking to them. **Give them a two-minute back rub when putting them to bed. **Start their day with a long embrace. **Hug them every time you leave/return home. **Hold their hand while walking. **Hold them when they are upset. **High-five those successes. **Create a special handshake. **Cuddle with them before bedtime. **Let them snuggle with you while watching a movie. **When driving reach back and hold their hand. **Sit next to them when eating out. **Hold their head when you hug them. **Give them random kisses on the forehead. **Hold them while reading a book. **Tickle their knee. **Play with their hair. 

Just because you have teens does not mean they have outgrown their language. Teens need physical touch, too.

ACTS OF SERVICE

When children have the love language of acts of service and are told, “No, you can do it yourself,” it hurts their heart. They know their hands can do it alone, but their heart wants you to do it with them. This can be quite annoying for a parent who has intentionally taught their child to be independent and self-sufficient. Yes, we want our children to take responsibility for their world and manage themselves well. No, we do not want to coddle them, stifle their growth, or baby them forever. But we do want to hear their heart cry to be loved, and these children hear it loudest when you do things that they are capable of doing on their own together. Do you have one of these kids? Has this happened to you?

HELPING KIDS 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!