Your Child and the 5 Love Languages (guest post)

This week, I'm pleased to introduce you to Jann Martin. On her own blog, 
Jann recently did a series of posts on The 5 Love Languages for Children. I
asked her over here today to summarize all her work and study (in less than
1000 words--no small task). If you haven't read the book, this will be a 
good introduction. If you have, it's still a great reminder (one that I 
needed!). Find out more about Jann at the end of this post.
IP - 5 Love Languages book
The 5 Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

It’s important to teach our children all of The Five Love Languages of Children. This will help them become more rounded adults and care for others around them. It may be difficult for them at first to learn how to reach out to others, but it’s very important that as they grow they learn more about how others feel and act. This will teach them not to be selfish and self-centered, but to care for and about others.

It will take time to figure out your child’s love language. When they are infants we use all of the languages with them. They are very self-centered and can’t tell us the best way to reach out to them. As they grow we will learn what responses work the best. Try to be aware of what words and actions work best in different situations.

Be honest with your children as you talk with them and reprimand them. Don’t, however, tell them what, how, and why you are saying and doing different things. This can lead to the child manipulating you to get what they want.

Describing the “Languages”

Physical touch – Touch in each stage of life is different. For infants and toddlers, it’s easy to give a lot of touch and loving cuddles. Both boys and girls need all of the love and comforting touches they can get.

12-26 friend hugs
showing some love through physical touch (c) Carole Sparks

When the children become school-age it’s important to send them off to school with hugs. This can give them a positive start to their day. There is so much new for them at school that they need that little extra reassurance before they head out for the day. The hug at the end of the day can be just as important, especially if they have had a challenging day.

Next, we come to the pre-teen and teen kids. This can be challenging. They want to break away, yet they still want their full support system to be there for them. Girls especially need reassurance and hugs from their dads to give them a healthy look at men as they grow older.

Words of affirmation – Encouraging our children with words of affirmation gives them the courage they need to grow up to be strong adults. What they learn with these types of lessons gives them the basis for treating others as they would like to be treated as well.

Quality time – We can turn any time with our children into quality time. Take advantage of a long ride. Ask a few questions or share something from your past. Your children will love to hear stories about how you met your husband or wife.

Plan quality time with each of your children. It could be a day alone with them. Go shopping, or to a movie, then their favorite restaurant for a meal. Another example could be reading together. If they can read, have them read their favorite book or a few chapters to you.

Gifts – For some children receiving gifts is very important. They look forward to their parents returning from vacations and business trips. They can’t wait to see what new thing they will receive. However, parents need to be mindful of making sure their child’s other love language needs are met.

We need to be careful not to use gifts as payments for chores or a bribe to stay busy so you can accomplish a task. These types of gifts make a child feel unloved and that receiving the gift is only if they do what is asked of them.

They also may want to make and give gifts to those around them. This can be family, friends, or teachers.

Acts of service – We want our children to grow up wanting to help others. If this is their love language, it’s easy for them to reach out to loved ones. They can do a chore, make a meal, or take them to a place where they can help others. We want to teach them to reach out to those in need around them without expecting something in return. Jesus showed this gift of love over and over throughout his ministry.

Discerning Your Child’s Primary “Language”

As your child grows, keep a mental record of how they express their love to you. Do they tell you they love you? Are they asking for attention, or how they did on a project? Then their love language would be Words of affirmation.

IP - Jesus w children
Don’t you know Jesus demonstrated all of the love languages? (image courtesy Jann Martin)

When they are relating to others and want to take something to friends, family, or teachers, they are showing the language of Gifts. It gives them pleasure to see others happy to receive something from them.

Is your child complaining that you are too busy? Is your time being split with another child or you have work to do around the house because you work away from home and are trying to get everything done? What and how often they are asking for or complaining about will help you see their love language may be Quality Time.

Is Physical touch something that is very important in your relationship with your child? They may enjoy lots of hugs, sitting close, or even being tickled. Any form of touch can be felt as an expression of love for them.

For some the Act of Service is very important. They are always looking for a way to help or do something for someone. They don’t want to be paid or recognized, the act of doing is reward enough for them.

Your child and the 5 Love Languages: how to connect with your child in the way that means the most to them. An #IntentionalParenting guest post from @JannWMartin. #5LoveLanguages (click to tweet)

I hope you learned something new to help you with Intentional Parenting. Which “language” is most challenging for you to demonstrate with your children? Have any fun thoughts or memories on how to show love to your child in the way they best understand? Leave Jann and me a comment below!

 

IP - Jann MartinJann W. Martin is a wife, mother of two girls, and Nina to four grandchildren. She is also an author, teacher, speaker and blogger. Her dream is to captivate the hearts of children, by writing stories that teach them of the Bible through the eyes of a child. Catch up with Jann on any of these platforms:

https://jannwmartin.com/  https://twitter.com/JannWMartin https://www.pinterest.com/jannwmartin/pins/  https://www.facebook.com/booksjann.christianchildren?ref=bookmarks          https://www.linkedin.com/nhome/?trk

 

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The Message Behind Our Manners

Our inquisitive children ask many tough questions about why we must behave the way we do (i.e. manners)…

  • Why shouldn’t I talk with my mouth full?
  • What must I use a fork and knife?
  • Why do we knock on doors and wait to be invited inside?
  • Why do I shake hands with people I don’t know?
  • Why do I say “hello” and “good-bye”?
  • Why do I have to say “please”?

Like me, you’ve probably answered with some variation of “Because that’s what we do.” This statement is true, but perhaps it’s incomplete. In truth, manners are cultural. What’s appropriate in some cultures is anathema in others. (I may write a children’s book about this one day.) But manners are more than social/cultural expectations. Manners are biblical!

From 1 Corinthians 13:5, love…        does not dishonor others. NIV

is not rude.  ESV

does not act unbecomingly.  NASB

does not behave rudely.  NKJV

From Philippians 2:3, in humility…         value others above yourselves.  NIV

                   count others more significant than yourselves.  ESV

                   regard one another as more important than yourselves.  NASB

                   let each esteem others better than himself.  NKJV

How does using manners help our children?

Manners teach patience. We wait for someone to open the door when we knock. We finish chewing and swallowing before we speak. Small applications of patience make the bigger tests easier to manage.

Manners teach thoughtfulness and thankfulness. Keeping our mouths closed to chew shows we know others don’t want to see our half-masticated food. Our unprompted “thank you” shows we’ve recognized the other person’s generosity toward us. When we consider the comfort of others, we’re beginning to learn empathy.

What do our manners say to those around us?

Manners convey the other person’s value. When we use the fork for green beans—even when we struggle with it—we show respect for others at the table, who don’t want to see our messy fingers. When we shake hands after an introduction, we’re saying that person is worth our attention.

Manners show respect—for others and for ourselves. When we wait until a break in conversation before we speak, we demonstrate that we value the other person’s thoughts above our own. When we refrain from slurping our soup, we’re recognizing everyone else’s desire for a quiet meal.

Is it super-important that our children use the right fork for their salads (if they’ll even eat salad)? No. To be honest, some days I would rather eat my green beans with my fingers, too. But teaching our kids to make the effort in small things leads them to respectful attitudes and actions when the consequences are bigger.

In Intentional Parenting, the Gospel informs everything we do, including our manners. When we frame our explanations (our answers to the “why” questions) in terms of the Gospel, we help them understand that faith affects all of life. When we teach our children to say “please” and “thank you,” even when we show them how to eat with utensils rather than their fingers, they learn more than these practical actions. Our children learn how to demonstrate love and humility toward the people around them. They learn how to act like Christ would act in our culture.

Our manners convey love and humility toward the people around us. #Manners matter in #IntentionalParenting, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Do you have any practical tips on helping our kids learn to “mind their manners?” Any other thoughts on why—or if—manners are important? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

For 21 interesting meal-time do’s and don’ts from around the world, check out this slideshow: https://www.thedailymeal.com/travel/burping-good-manners-and-other-etiquette-surprises-around-world-slideshow. I found it while researching this topic.

Who Needs You More?

As a writer, there’s nothing better than when someone says they connect with something I wrote. Jann (who will be our guest blogger next month here at Intentional Parenting) recently reached out to me in this way. She identified with a piece I wrote for Pastor’s Wives and asked if I’d share it with her readers as well.

As usual, I had more to say than what I’d said the first time, so I wrote a new piece for her using some of the same elements as the original piece.

If you’ve ever struggled with #MomGuilt (or #DadGuilt), this post is for you! Click the link below to read it, then be sure to leave us a comment over there or come back here and let me know what’s on your mind.

Who Needs you More, Mom?

10 Ways to Secure Influence and Reach Your Goal

I love it when I have the chance to learn from Christ-follower parents who 
are a couple of steps ahead of me on the parenting journey. This week, we 
have the privilege of sitting under Sandra A. Lovelace, a writer friend that
I’m sure you will love! Read more about her at the end of this post.

Both ladies sported face-wide smiles. Emma jumped out of the silver Honda with fourteen-year-old delight. Mom grabbed her purse and slid out from behind the steering wheel. They’d taken a few steps when the older woman started to sing what had become their just-us-having-fun song.

The daughter’s eyes shifted from the ice cream shop to the tires of an old green truck. Mom slowed her tempo as she made beckoning circles with her hand. No response. “Hey now. Don’t leave me with a solo here.” Continue reading “10 Ways to Secure Influence and Reach Your Goal”

6 Reasons I (Still) Read Aloud to My Kids

The sky darkens and we begin to see ourselves reflected in the window. Three plates are empty but one—the youngest—is still at work, with his tiny bites and propensity to tell an entire story between each mouthful. I take a long drink of water then reach for the heavy book on a nearby shelf. The others around the table grow quiet. This is a sacred time, of sorts. This is reading time.

I have a fifteen-year-old and a twelve-year-old, both of whom read far above grade level. My husband, of course, can read anything he wants. Yet they all stay around the table while I voice the characters, pause for dramatic effect, and stop to ask questions. Continue reading “6 Reasons I (Still) Read Aloud to My Kids”

What’s Your Superpower? (guest post)

Sometimes you meet a person, and you think, “This person is fun. I want to hang out with them.” That’s what I thought when I met Beckie Lindsey at a writer’s conference last year. I quickly discovered that she laughs easily and loves quickly. But don’t let that fun persona lead you to think she’s a lightweight. Beckie can pack a theological punch, as you’ll discover in this super-special guest post!

Come on, admit it. There are superpowers you’d like to have. Maybe when you were a kid, you ran around the house wearing a makeshift cape. No worries. There is no judgment from me. I used to tell my brother and best friend that I was half-cat. It’s fun to envision what life would be like if we developed superpowers of our own. Would you have superhuman strength? Fly? How about reading minds?

Comic books, movies, and cartoons have depicted our fascination with superheroes and their superpowers. As parents, we’d love to have superpowers—or at least we’d like our kids to think we do. Continue reading “What’s Your Superpower? (guest post)”

Emotion Management 101

The Scriptures tell us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). The heart, in Hebrew as well as English, refers to the “seat” of our emotions; that is, the part of ourselves from which our emotions spring. So how do we love God with all our emotions? And how do we teach our children to do the same?

  1. The three-year-old boy can’t operate his bubble gun. After about twenty seconds of trying, he throws it onto the ground in frustration.
  2. The four-year-old girl doesn’t want to lie down for rest time. She screams and kicks, refusing to comply.
  3. The six-year-old boy wants the brown crayon while another child has it. He breaks four other crayons because he can’t get it.

These are sinful actions, no doubt about it. But let’s be careful to distinguish the actions from the emotions. Depending on the age of the child and other factors, discipline may be appropriate for actions springing from certain emotions, but let’s never discipline our kids for feeling angry, frustrated, or other so-called “bad” emotions.

Consider:

  • God is emotional. He loves; He is pleased by things; He gets frustrated (e.g. the Hebrew people in the wilderness, Exodus 32:7-10).
  • Jesus experienced everything involved in being human—including emotions: He loved, He wept, He got angry—and even acted on that anger (Mark 11:15-17)! Yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).
  • We humans, created in the image of God and patterning our lives on the example of Jesus, are emotional beings.
  • The Bible never says, “Don’t get angry.” Rather, it says, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).

Clearly, the experience of strong emotions is not automatically sinful. The sin associated with emotion comes from one of two issues. Either sin causes the emotion (e.g. selfishness leads to impatience), or we respond to the emotion in a sinful way (e.g. hitting someone in anger). For our concrete-thinking children, let’s focus on the second, more tangible issue: responding to emotions.

Responding to Our Emotions

When we experience a negative emotion, we have three response options. (I’m not a psychologist. These are just my observations.)

  1. We can act out. The child in example 3 above broke crayons because he didn’t know how to practice patience.
  2. We can stuff the emotion back down inside ourselves. This often happens if we shame our children for feeling a certain way. Eventually, all those swallowed emotions will probably cause the child to explode. I’ve seen this happen with my own kids.
  3. We can handle the emotion responsibly. People (children and adults) can’t do this without training.

Handling emotions is a learned skill, not something we’re born with. How can we teach our kids to manage their emotions well?

Build Vocabulary

First, we must build emotional vocabulary through observation and experience. For our younger children, we name it: “Noah, you’re feeling angry.” Or “Sarah, you’re feeling sad.” Or “Mommy is feeling frustrated.” Say it out loud. Ask your child to say it out loud.

We follow the feelings statement with why. “You’re feeling angry because the bubble gun isn’t working for you.” “…because your friend can’t come play with you today.” “…because I’ve told you all to pick up your toys five times already and you haven’t done it.” (Maybe that last one is just me.) If we model this verbal acknowledgement, our children will learn to do the same.

Offer Action Steps

Next, we must offer concrete action steps for managing various emotions, e.g. “When I am angry, I can do ten jumping jacks to calm down or I can take a deep breath and back away.” The actions you offer will depend on the child. I suggest you give two acceptable options. Choosing will help your child feel in control of the situation. Offer action steps for the positive emotions, too. “When I am happy, I can sing a song or I can skip across the yard.” Keep the options consistent if possible. If little Noah always has the same two options for managing his anger, he’ll soon learn to choose even before you offer the options.

Lots and lots of praise would be appropriate when she successfully manages a difficult emotion on her own!

Play a Game

To introduce this new way of managing emotions, play charades with your child/children. First, the parent models the emotion and the child guesses. Once the child has named the emotion, give a reason one might feel that way. Say for example, “I am sad because my friend forgot my birthday.” Next, model various positive and negative ways to manage that emotion. (Use options your kids might use.) Ask your children to decide if each way is acceptable. When you’ve settled on at least two healthy ways to deal with the emotion, ask each child which one he/she would choose for that emotion.

After your children understand the game, let them model various emotions and responses. Make sure to discuss each response.

How do we love God with all our emotions, not just the positive ones? We handle them in a way that brings Him glory. We take them under control and learn to manage them–and teach our kids to do the same–so it’s clear to everyone that we love Him.

#Emotions themselves aren’t sinful. It’s how we handle them that counts. Let’s teach our children some emotional management skills. #IntentionalParenting via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

What practical ways have you found to help your children deal with their emotions in a way that honors God? We would all love to hear some “best practices!”

Want more? Check out this post from Desiring God for more on handling emotions as a Christ-following adult.

 

Time to Take Out the Trash! (guest post)

This girl! I just love her honest perspective and practical attitude. 
I met Jenifer at a writers conference last May, and I immediately wanted her
to share here on Intentional Parenting. It took almost a year but here she
is! I'm sure you'll be blessed by her words...and maybe you'll think about
your own stinky trash can a little differently in the future. You can read
more about Jenifer at the bottom.

A few months ago I walked into the house and the smell hit me. It was overwhelming. The trash HAD to go!

I had been in the house all day and I didn’t smell it, but when I left and came back it was overwhelming. I didn’t realize how bad it had become.

I also saw this with our daughter’s attitude. Continue reading “Time to Take Out the Trash! (guest post)”

Do My Sins Cause My Child’s Suffering?

We’re not perfect parents—none of us. I’ve made some massive mistakes in the last sixteen years. Some of my mistakes were…

  • accidental, because I wasn’t paying attention to the right things.
  • ignorant, because sometimes I just didn’t know the right thing to do.
  • sinful, because I was being selfish or prideful.

Some of my mistakes were the type I could correct later. But for some of those mistakes, the only thing I could do was ask forgiveness.

Sometimes Satan slips his hand inside the memories of my parenting mistakes as if they were puppets. Then he raises their ugly heads toward me at the worst times, crushing my confidence and/or piling on the guilt.

I know I’m not alone. My friend and her son are in a difficult situation. He’s struggling, and she’s hurting. She said, “I hurt because I know some of the things I did were wrong.”

Me too, friend. Me too. And now it seems my children suffer because of my wrongs.

The same day she said those words to me, I read the beginning of John 9.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  –John 9:2-3

I’ve written about this Gospel scene before. But this time, I thought of myself in the parents’ role: always wondering if I had done something to cause the son’s blindness. In the same way, I wonder if my actions and decisions over the past sixteen years have caused some of the struggles my kids have now.

Read the Scriptures carefully here. Jesus isn’t saying those parents never sinned. He’s saying their sin didn’t cause their son’s blindness. Think about the relief that unnamed mom and dad must have felt when their son walked in, looked at them, and told them about Jesus!

There are some parental sins that do affect our children (e.g. negligence, substance abuse), and in a sense, every decision we make—good and bad— affects those around us. If you’re reading this blog, however, you’re trying to be a good parent. You’re working on Intentional Parenting. I’m talking to you, to us, who would never intentionally harm our children.

Yet we still throw those regrets up in the air like confetti.

“If I hadn’t done this…”

“If I’d just noticed that thing earlier…”

“If I’d made a different choice when they were younger…”

I imagine the blind man’s parents racked their brains for what sin they had committed to cause their son’s suffering. Or maybe they thought they knew. And maybe they had to live with the walking, talking reminder and the regret every day.

Here’s what we all need to know, need to claim, need to grab tightly when those bad parenting memories rear their ugly heads in the face of our children’s struggles:

It is not God’s pattern to punish us through our children. Instead, God’s pattern is to redeem every situation for His glory. Our children’s problems, whether caused by us or not, create avenues for the works of God to be displayed in them.

How beautiful is this!!

Let go of the guilt. Let go of the self-doubt. Let go of the repetitive beating-yourself-up. Toss that guilt confetti in the air one last time and let the breath of God blow it away!

Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).  –the accidental mistakes

Paul declared, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). –the ignorant mistakes

Through Joel, God told the once-rebellious Israelites, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). –the sinful mistakes

Here’s what I’m telling myself these days:

I’m going to do the best parenting job I can, leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit along the way. Yes, I’ve messed up. Yes, I’ve failed. But…

  • Not every problem my children face is the result of my failures.
  • Not every problem is necessarily the result of poor decision-making in my parenting.
  • None of their problems are designed to destroy me…or them.

“Who sinned?” the disciples asked. Well, we all did, but that’s not why our children suffer. Now let’s back off and let Jesus display the “works of God” in our children’s lives and our own, just like He did for the blind man.

Feel like your parenting mistakes have created problems in your kids’ lives? Know this: It’s not God’s pattern to punish parents through their children. #IntentionalParenting #GodsGlory via @Carole_Sparks (click to tweet)

I want to hear what you think about this. There was so much more I could write, so push in to those parts of the post that intrigue you and let me know what the Lord reveals. Or encourage us all with a short story of how God has used a parenting “fail” for good. I would love to hear it!

I Am Not Enough (guest post)

Friends, you will be blessed by this honest, Spirit-filled post from my
virtual friend, Heather Bock. Receive these words from her heart, then
connect with her through the links at the end. And as always, we'd love to
hear what you think in the comments!

As a mother, I am broken. I am not enough.

Since the moment I knew life was growing inside me, I wanted so much to be enough. In fact, I wanted very much to be as close to a perfect mother as possible. I ate all the right foods, took the right vitamins, and slept the recommended way. When my baby was born, I read all the books, swaddled him carefully, and started him on solids, thinking carefully about which food to introduce first and watching for allergies each time. Continue reading “I Am Not Enough (guest post)”