“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread”
I went to see The King’s Speech yesterday and I was really moved by George VI courage, bravery and sense of duty.
It is a truly wonderful film and I hope it wins all the Awards its nominated for.
I was also moved by the damage done to young Bertie’s self esteem and confidence caused by his domineering father and unkind brother which caused his stammering in the first place.
This got me thinking about the power of appreciation in our family lives and the way we praise and encourage our children.
If you spend most of your time being positive yet finish your sentences with “but” you negate all the positive things you’ve already said to your kids and they will only remember the words after your “but. “
For example, “I think you’re brilliant at writing your own songs and playing the guitar but I hate it when you leave the guitar propped up against the armchair like that and with all the wires sticking out from your mike. It’s just so careless and anyone could knock it over or trip over them.”
What do you think your child is going to remember most?
The fact that you think he’s a great musician or the fact that you think he’s untidy?
There are actually three types of appreciation because there are three ways the brain processes information – visually, auditory or kinaesthetically.
Visual children like to feel appreciated by things they can see like, cards, certificates, plaques or cups – things they can keep and put up on the wall to remember and cherish.
Auditory children like to hear appreciation so verbal praise and the warm tone in your voice and the words you use mean a lot to them.
While kinaesthetic children love to be hugged, have their hand held or their hair tussled to feel appreciated.
If you are in doubt, use all three types!
How to spot your child’s language of love.
In our modern society raising happy, confident, well balanced and emotionally healthy kids is often increasingly difficult. Kids seem to speak a completely different language when they are texting or chatting on the internet that is sometimes hard to understand yet one really important aspect to parenting is to meet your child’s need for love and appreciation.
Did you know there are actually five primary ways in which your child expresses and receives love?
And did you know that every child has their own unique way of perceiving that love?
As you know, children need to know that they are loved for being completely themselves, no matter what they do, what they say or how they behave that deep down within your soul you love them no matter what. You may not like their behaviour, their clothes, their taste in music or their choice of lifetime partner but you love them as a person completely.
This is what it means to be a parent. This is unconditional love and this is your most important job. Because from here children develop self-esteem, self-confidence and true self belief and this allows them to grow into responsible, well-balanced and happy adults, free from resentment, guilt, fear and insecurity.
This is the ultimate gift you give them and the legacy you leave them.
But did you know there are five styles of communicating love that each of us responds to more naturally?
Each one of us has a primary love language that we prefer and that helps us to make sense of the world. Conflicts or misunderstandings occur when as parents we don’t use or understand our child’s primary love language.
Every child has an emotional tank, a place of emotional strength that can fuel them through the challenging days of growing up and just as cars are powered by reserves of petrol in their fuel tank, so are children fuelled from their emotional tanks. So it makes sense for us to fill our children’s emotional tanks for them to reach their true potential.
So, how do we do this?
It helps to know to know that there are five basic ways to show love.
1. Physical touch.
Hugs and kisses are the most common ways to express this kind of love. Tossing your toddler in the air or spinning them round, reading a story with them sitting on your lap, rustling a teenager’s hair, or touching them affectionately on the shoulder are only a few examples of showing and expressing physical love.
Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices. It shouts “I love you” yet many parents or adults now fear calls of sexual abuse, so they hold back from what is one of life’s most natural expressions of affection. So just relax and express your love appropriately and naturally.
The second love language is:
2. Words of Affirmation.
Our words are powerful. Words of praise, affection, endearment, encouragement and guidance are ways of really saying, “I care about you.” Words can nurture your child’s soul and give them a deep sense of security.
So, if this is your child’s primary love language, choose your words carefully and be gentle in your tone of voice.
Appreciate, don’t criticise and look for lots of ways to be positive in encouraging your children.
The third love language is
3. Quality Time.
This is basically receiving your undivided attention. We have all heard about “quality time” over the years, and we all beat ourselves up about not doing it enough-but it doesn’t mean playing endless games of Ludo or cricket in the garden. It means focused attention for as long as you feel comfortable. 10 minutes talking with your child and doing nothing else at the same time, is quality time, 15 minutes doing a jigsaw together is quality time, singing on the” Sing Star” with your daughter for half an hour is quality time. It’s the gift of being present in a moment and not reading the paper or looking at the TV or preparing dinner. It’s just being together-not scaling Everest or going to “Disney World”
The fourth love language is:
4. The giving and receiving of gifts.
Giving and receiving gifts has long been a natural human activity. The word “gift” comes from the Greek word meaning “undeserved gift.” A true gift is freely given and is not a pay back or bribe. It is more a way of saying. “Thank you.”
The act of giving actually has little to do with the size and cost of the gift. It has everything to do about love. So don’t let the TV advertisers coerce you into bigger and bigger presents. It’s not about falling into the trap of giving a gift instead of spending time with your child or giving your child a reward for tidying their room or coming off the computer as this is really a manipulative tool to control your child’s behaviour. This type of “gift” is really a bribe and can send out a mixed message which can confuse a child.
But a surprise special little gift for your child, like a buttercup when you’re out walking or an unusual pebble, speaks volumes to a child whose primary love language is the giving and receiving of gifts.
Finally, love language number five is
5. Acts of service.
Parenting is by its nature, service orientated. It is physically and emotionally demanding. The ultimate purpose, for doing acts of service for children, like making their bed, washing their clothes etc is to help them emerge as mature adults able to do things for themselves and to become independent. This area of a parent’s love needs to develop as the child develops. It also teaches children to be helpful, kind and to go out of their way for others.
It requires a parent to be sensible and not to overdo the cosseting. It really doesn’t help your son not to teach him how to use the washing machine or the iron! But by fixing a bicycle, mending the dolls dress or picking your teenager up from a disco you’re showing your child that you love them.
These are invaluable ways to show your child you love them, yet by remaining sensitive to your child’s needs for growing independence you are teaching them to become responsible for their own lives.
Be on the look out for how your child shows you they love you by the things they do for you. This could be their primary love language.
How to work out your child’s primary love language:
- Notice this week how your child expresses love to you, other children, other family members or friends – do they give you little gifts, ask you to listen to them, hug you, do something for you, or want reassuring words from you?
Because these are all signs of how they would like to receive love from you.
Most children aren’t shy about voicing their requests, preferences, and desires. If you also learn to listen “between the lines” to the things your child is requesting, you may hear his or her primary love language.
- Listen to your child’s most frequent complaints.
When you stop to look beyond their whining and grumbling the results may surprise you because their complaints may fall into a category corresponding with one of the love languages that they don’t feel is being met.
Every day can really be a new beginning and an opportunity to develop your parenting to become the parents you really want to be. So this idea must be worth a go!
Perhaps to be a really effective parent we need to speak all five love languages regularly!
Learning to understand your children’s primary way of feeling and experiencing love is the key to helping to bring up happy children with great self esteem and also a very easy way to improve your relationship with them.
So think of it as a new adventure while learning to speak your child’s love language and to enjoy having fun experimenting with it.
- For this week just start to notice and pay attention to the way you show appreciation towards your children – perhaps you give them praise in the way you like to receive it but they may like to receive it in a different way and by changing your approach you may find your child beaming at you in surprise and delight.
- One easy thing to do this week is simply to ask your children to remember a time when they felt most loved and listen to their answers carefully to see how they respond. Then you can work out whether they prefer the visual, auditory or the kinaesthetic way.
If I asked you to name the five wealthiest people in the world or five people who have won the Nobel Peace Prize or an Oscar I bet you couldn’t do it. But if I asked you to remember five people who made a difference in your life like friends, family, teachers or colleagues who showed you appreciation I bet you could do that really easily.
Make genuine appreciation part of your parenting toolkit and watch your relationships flourish.
I was also fascinated by the techniques that the speech therapist use to treat the King because as you probably know I am trained by Paul McKenna and Dr Roger Callahan in a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping.
Emotional Freedom Technique is the new therapy for the 21st century as it is a very safe way to get rid of anxiety, stress, and feelings of guilt and overwhelm that lots of people suffer from.
It is based on tapping different Chinese meridian lines with your fingers – and you’ve probably heard lots of people talking about tapping their problems away.
You may have seen Paul McKenna on British television demonstrating how tapping various points on your body can alleviate stress, anger and phobias.
He has also shown how it can treat weight loss, smoking and other addictions and I first became impressed with it through regularly assisting Paul on his Easy Weight Loss Seminars.
Chris Evans became fascinated and convinced about its effectiveness on his BBC Radio 2 Show recently and Whoopi Goldberg tapped away her severe 10 year flying phobia recently too to appear in London and on the Jonathan Ross Show.
Tens of thousands of people worldwide have already used Tapping to conquer their anger, increase their energy or let go of negative feelings. It has also been used to great effect in treating trauma victims in Kosovo, Iraq and Uganda and after natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
As an EFT Parenting Specialist, trained in the Callahan Techniques, I use it with parents and children as another tool in my coaching toolkit as it is a completely safe way of eliminating stressful or anxious feelings with no side effects.
My ebook gives a simple overview of EFT and how it can help.
Download your copy of Sue’s Ebook
How to give your kids the gift of self-esteem by clicking here
About the author
Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.
Join me on these networks
Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
T: + 44 1342 833355 M: 07740 622769
Surrey RH7 6LF