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Loving our kids should be easy, right?
Well sometimes… sometimes not.
But what if we’re doing lots of things to show our love, but our child doesn’t really respond to it?
As humans, we tend to show love to our children in a way that makes us feel loved. Maybe we love to hear kind words of encouragement and praise, but what makes your child feel really loved is lots of hugs and rough play. So even though we’re showing lots of love to our child by encouraging them through our words, it’s not actually something that makes them feel really loved, maybe they need physical touch to make them feel truly loved. This will be different for every child.
So how do we love our kids in a way that makes them feel truly loved?
The key is work out what things make your child feel truly loved and do more of those things.
It’s not too hard to work this out – let me show you how.
1. Work Out What Your Child’s Primary Love Language is
There’s a brilliant, best-selling book called “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It explains that there are 5 basic ways that we feel loved:
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
I’ve read his book and it’s a game-changer. Learn more about it with this brief video.
There are 2 main ways to help you work out what your child’s primary love language is:
Take the love language quiz with your child
To find out your child’s primary love language take the quiz here, and select “I’m taking the quiz for my child” when starting the quiz. You will need your child with you as it has simple statements that you will need to ask your child which they prefer, A or B.
You can get the quiz results sent to you (results only, no spam) in a pie chart that shows your child’s main or primary love language and secondary love language and so on.
Pay attention to how your child gives love
Another way to work out your child’s love language is to notice what things they do the most to show their love for you. Because we normally show love to others in the way we want to receive it from others.
My daughter often makes small gifts or notes and leaves it in a special spot for me to find. So I’ve started doing the same for her and her face just lights up when she sees a special note from me. This tells me that her love language is receiving gifts / words of affirmation.
My son on the other hand is more physical. He’ll often bump into my husband to get his attention or put his arms around his neck. He needs some physical touch and often rough play to feel most loved.
2. Create a Check-list of How to Show Love to Your Kids
Once we know what our kids love language is we need to make sure we actually do the things that make our kids feel most loved.
For me personally I find often it’s easy to spend more time with one child over another, often the youngest gets most of my attention. But I need to make sure that each of my children feel loved by me, even the one that doesn’t ask for my attention much… especially the one that doesn’t ask for my attention.
So, recently I’ve setup a spreadsheet as a kind of checklist of things that I know will make each child feel loved and I try to pick a couple of things each week to help me show them love in the way they feel it most. You can grab the spreadsheet template here and add activities that suit your kids.
To make sure I actually do these things, I’ve set aside time every Saturday morning first thing to review the checklist to see what things I’ve already done and tick them off (it always feels good to tick things off). Then I can easily see if I’ve spent more time and energy on one child and not enough time with another child. From here I can make sure I set aside a certain amount of time on the weekend and then pick a couple things I could do with that child to show them that I love them.
Quick tip: Show your child love early in the day! I have noticed that when I don’t take the time to show my kids love early in the day, these are the days when they have a shorter fuse and get sad and/or angry easily. But when I pick a quick activity on weekend mornings that really speaks to my child’s love language then it seems to fill their love tank for the day and everything runs much smoother.
3. Block Out Time in your Calendar for Your Kids
When I feel loved I feel happier.
When my kids feel loved they feel happier too.
And who doesn’t want happy kids?
Everyone does, right??
Pouring love into our kids in a way they can feel it has so so many benefits! When your child feels truly loved they will feel more comfortable within themselves. It will reduce their need for comparison and competition. I find it also reduces anger and frustration in my kids.
For me the hardest part of loving my kids is actually making the time in my day to do it.
But loving my kids well is so crucial I need to make the time to do it.
I find the easiest way to love my kids on a regular basis is to set it as a daily or weekly task in my calendar and make it part of our routine so I don’t forget.
For our family we’ve currently set the following in place:
- Sunday to Thursday night from 7-8pm is blocked out for reading time with my kids. I spend about 15 minutes with each child before bed reading a book of their choice. With my older kids (9 & 12) we read a novel (mostly fantasy) so it’s something we both enjoy and look forward to (I have to limit myself to 6 pages otherwise I get carried away!).
- Sunday day is blocked out for God and family. I try not to check my phone or email or do any work, but reserve it for doing fun things with my family and for showing them my love by giving them undivided attention. It’s a great day for making sure each of your kids is getting your love in a way that they feel it most.
- Every morning I try to make sure I greet my kids with a hug or ruffle of hair and make sure I give them all a hug before they leave for school.
- Saturday mornings first thing I check what things I’ve done for my kids during the week to show that I love them using the checklist above, then I can easily see if I’ve spent more time with one child over another and make sure I pick an extra activity for that child for the weekend.
I’m still learning and tweaking things as I go, but at the moment this is working well for us. And some days things crop up, but I try to get back into the routine as soon as I can.
Just start with one thing and add it to your routine. Write it in your calendar for the the first month to remind you and then often it will become part of your routine without you having to remember, especially if it’s something you do with the kids – they will likely remind you themselves!
What to Read with Your Kids?
If you want to read to your children but aren’t sure where to start, just head to your local library and let your kids pick out some books. I’m always more eager to read new books to my kids rather than ones we’ve read over and over. Plus if you get books from the library, you don’t have to worry about extra storage for books at home, just take them back when you’re done and get some more.
It’s easy to stop reading to your kids when they are about 8 years or older and can easily read themselves, and I stopped reading to them until about a year ago, but now it’s something that we both really look forward to.
Our kids enjoy fantasy novels and we’ve really enjoyed ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ series and ‘The Knights of Arrethtrae’ series. I love these series because they have a deeper side to them, I often find myself pondering deeper issues related to life when I read these to my kids.
The library is a great place to start with these. If you join your local library you’ll be able to use their app to look up book titles and put them on hold. Our library app looks up books held in libraries across the entire state and then delivers it to your library for free. You’ll get a message to let you know when the book is ready to collect. Such an awesome free system!
If it’s a series that our kids really love and want to read over and over then we’ll look at buying the series for a birthday or Christmas present.