Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tomorrow has me thinking about how to love my kids better...

Tomorrow morning is the weekend experience for our church family. It's an exciting weekend! We are coming off of Easter (which is our highest attended day of the year) and we are celebrating child dedication. (which is also highly attended) A few times each year we dedicate children from our church family to the Lord. It's a great moment and one of my favorite things to do as a Pastor. It's a special moment for the family and one that I have enjoyed with my own. I was thinking about the follow-through of that dedication process and how I can be more loving to my children. I found this good article on the five love languages and how to love your child. It's good stuff and I thought it could be helpful for all of you out there that have children like I do.

Five Love Languages
Do your children feel loved? Do they sense your unconditional affection and support as they school at home? Although we may think we’re showing love to our children, many times our children fail to feel loved because we use the wrong love language. According to The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, children sense love in five basic ways – words of affirmation, gift giving, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. Do you know which of these love languages speaks loudest to your child’s heart?

Determining your child’s love language will enable you to achieve family closeness and provide a solid emotional foundation for your child. One simple test you can use to find your child’s love language is to ask your child this question:
If I was gone on vacation for several weeks, what would you like me to do when I returned home?

Tell you how much I missed you. (words of affirmation)
Bring a gift back for you. (gift giving)
Spend the day playing together. (quality time)
Make your favorite meal for supper. (acts of service)
Give you a big hug and kiss. (physical touch)

Although your child may say that he would like you to do all of these, tell him to pick just one. Your child’s response will pinpoint his particular love language and enable you to communicate your love to him more effectively.

So what are some practical ways of meeting your child’s need for love as you educate him at home? Depending on your child’s particular love language you might do the following:

Words of Affirmation – Mean what you say. No flattery allowed.
0. Write encouraging comments like “great job” on his daily papers.
0. Hide “I love you” notes in his assignments.
0. Pay sincere compliments when he demonstrates positive character qualities with siblings.
0. Be polite and use “please” and “thank you” liberally.
0. Praise him verbally as often as you can for both his efforts and successes in school.
0. Pray aloud with him daily and ask for God’s blessing on his life.

Gift Giving – It doesn’t need to be expensive, just thoughtful and age appropriate.
0. Purchase items (favorite candy bar, coloring book, anything he’d like) from dollar-value stores to use as daily rewards on schoolwork.
0. Choose a gift or plan an activity that he has been wanting and give it as a reward for a successful school year.
0. Create a surprise love bucket. Fill it with a different educational item each week, such as art supplies, an educational computer game, a new reference book, a new notebook, or some other study item.
0. Make homemade gifts. These gifts may even spark an interest in carpentry, sewing, photography, gardening, and other life skills.
Quality Time – Undivided attention required. No multi-tasking allowed.
0. Cherish learning together – don’t hurry him through his school lessons.
0. Take all the time necessary to help him work through questions he doesn’t understand.
0. Plan an individual field trip covering one of his subjects.
0. Skip school and plan a regular date once a month to do something fun.
0. Watch a movie, play a board game, or read a book together.
0. Play a seasonal sport activity together for physical education class.
0. Work together on a hobby that he enjoys.
Acts of Service – Be creative. Go beyond the normal duties of being a parent.
0. Help him paint and redecorate his room.
0. Plan a special party or activity for his friends.
0. Wash and wax his car.
0. Volunteer to help in his Sunday school class or youth group at church.
Physical Touch – Warning! This love language is not for young children only!
0. Give kisses and hugs without measure – of course!
0. Cuddle in a chair while you share a book for reading class.
0. Give a backrub while he is studying at the computer or the table.
0. Give a pedicure or manicure as you study lessons on health.
Don’t assume that you are communicating love effectively simply because you teach your child at home. Just as children learn academics differently, they also feel love from their parents differently. If you want your children to remember their days of home education as ones filled with love, monitor their hearts through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, apply large amounts of God’s agape love, and communicate in the love language that they understand best!