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How do you love me?

February 1, 2017
Mollie Haught , MOV Parent

February is first and foremost associated with Valentine's Day. We think of hearts and flowers and lovely cards for that special someone. However, there are also special someones who are pint-sized, and for them it is important to show them love daily! Children come with the ability to give love, but they also have a love tank that needs filled on a consistent basis. Knowing they are loved and accepted is foundational to growing into a secure, confident adult.

How do we in the midst of a hectic schedule and everyday responsibilities accomplish that? First, it should be intentional. When I see parents walking along talking on their phones and children lagging behind, I am saddened to see parents missing the opportunity to converse with their children. To the word intentional I would add "attentional" - children need to know they are an important part of our lives by our deliberately being attentive. What about the word participation? Taking time to play with, read to, and be involved in your child's life brings great rewards. (That does not include watching a child as a spectator but actually being involved with him.) Another word for showing them they are loved is informed. There are many resources available to help you become informed in this important task.

Gary D. Chapman wrote a series of books on "The Five Love Languages" in 1996 to help adults learn to express love both to each other and to children. He lists gifts, touch, acts of service, words of encouragement and quality time as the ways most people express love.He posits that one generally gives love in the manner in which he wishes to receive love. Learning to recognize each other's love language helps us send the message of love clearly. All of his books contain tests and information to help you identify your own love language and that of your children. I highly recommend them.

Gifts let the child know that you were thinking about him. Try a "just because" gift, no special occasion. Touch is important to the child's development. Why have doctors begun placing the newborn on mother's tummy? Human touch nurtures and establishes a bond. Acts of service show caring. If this is a child's love language, service shows them the things that are important to them are important to you also. A pleasant expression accompanied by words that show how much you like and value a child is nourishing to one with this love language. Quality time goes without saying no matter what the love language. Listening when they speak, playing games with them, etc. shows them they are loved and valued. Take time to research and learn your child's love language. You and your child will reap many benefits. Another excellent resource is the book, "Show Me You Love Me" by Tara Koerber. She lists 100 ways to show your child he/she is loved. Some of them are tried and true oldies that I used in raising my children; others are original and fresh ideas that I wish I had thought of. One that was especially intriguing to me was painting in the snow with a spray bottle full of tinted water. What fun that would be on a snow day with no school.

Mollie Haught, MA, LPC, is a counselor at the Counseling and Wellness Center.



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