The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 4: Words of Affirmation
For many individuals, parenting is a full-time job. It can difficult knowing how to connect with a child whose needs and wants change with each developmental stage. One of the ways parents can connect with their children is by understanding how each individual child gives and accepts love. In examining the book “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, I hope to take some of these core concepts and discuss how they can be incorporated in parent-child relationships. To learn about the overall concept of the love languages of children, please review my article “The Five Love Languages of Children, Part 1.” Out of the five love languages, you can read about the first one, physical touch, and the first part of the second love language, words of affirmation. Today, I will continue discussing words of affirmation and its importance in a child’s life.Last week we discussed the difference between words of affection and praise. Now, let’s examine encouragement and the power it can have.
When a parent encourages a child, in some aspects the parent is motivating the child to try. For example, a parent may say, “Great job, you can do this - yes, you got it, keep going!” to a child taking his or her first steps. In this sense, a parent is utilizing words of affirmation to help build a child’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
As children get older, encouragement can also be used to help guide children as they learn to communicate with peers. For example, a parent may state, “Ben, I noticed how your shared your toy train with your brother. What a wonderful way to spend time together.” In this aspect, the parent is connecting with Ben providing him with words of affirmation while praising a skill that will help Ben in future interactions. Ben will likely be encouraged to share in future situations thanks to the positive feedback provided.
For some parents, being positive and incorporating lots of encouragement may be difficult. It is important for parents to be aware of their own emotional state before interacting with a child. In this sense, tone is incredibly important. Children will often pick up on a parent’s emotional state and reflect that emotion back to the parent. For example, if a parent is angry and snaps, “Pick up your toys!,” the child will likely respond in a similar tone and shout, “No!” By using words of encouragement, a parent may instead ask “Will you please pick up your toys?” to which the child is more likely to favorably respond.
Every child is different, and therefore, it is important for a parent to make an effort to understand the child’s primary love language. Using a harsh tone or making critical comments are harmful to children in general, but they can be especially destructive to children who have words of affirmation as a primary love language. Therefore, it is important for parents and caregivers to apologize for any critical or negative remarks said to a child, and to create more positive interactions.
Join me next time as I explore the third love language of children, quality time.
If you feel that you are a parent who is struggling with your relationship with your child, or that it is difficult for you to incorporate words of affirmation into your parenting style, seeking therapy can be a great option.For more information, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services or contact us to schedule an appointment.