It was Tuesday morning when I told my son, David, to take off his pajamas and put on his clothes for the day – for the fifth time. Repeating myself is a pet peeve of mine. I was becoming more frustrated by the second with my little human. At some point during our exchange, I had an out-of-body moment where I was looking at the situation and started laughing at the nonsense of it all.
Let’s face it, parenting is hard. But with books like “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” by Joanna Faber and Julie King and “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, there’s guidance out there for us parents to help navigate some of the challenges of parenthood.
The main thing that I’ve taken away from these books is that kids want to have fun and that it’s up to us parents to make it that way. Playtime for young children is how they learn things. Creating an environment that is playful while also speaking a child’s love language is a recipe for success. Keep in mind, that these love languages can be utilized by adults as well.
The five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and touch. My love language is acts of service. I enjoy taking care of my family’s needs and making sure everyone has what they need by doing things like keeping a tidy home and making sure the laundry is clean and put away. My husband’s love language rotates between words of affirmation and touch. He loves hearing how much I appreciate him with statements like, “I really appreciate you helping me with taking care of the car” or “It really means a lot to me when you help me around the house.” My husband also loves when I give him hot stone massages. It relieves his muscles; and since my love language is acts of service, I enjoy making him feel better. It’s a win-win.
Cameron and I currently use touch, quality time, and words of affirmation with David. I hug and kiss him throughout the day and tell him “I love you very much” as well as “You make me smile.” We utilize quality time in various ways such as sitting at the dining table and having a meal together, going to the park after work, and curling up on our couch to watch movies. Both my husband and son enjoy video games. Gaming is hard for me to get into as I find it unproductive. However, I know they both enjoy it and I will join in the fun occasionally because I know it’s important to them.
We use gifts sparingly. For us, we have a value system that focuses more on time, gathering and experiences and less with material objects. However, this past Christmas, we witnessed our son’s face light up when Santa brought him the gift he had been asking for all year long: a fuzzy and cuddly white tiger. David was overjoyed to finally have the gift he’d been waiting so long to receive. Cameron and I experienced joy seeing such gratitude from receiving a gift.
I bet you’re wondering at this point how I handled that Tuesday morning. I’ll tell you. My son LOVES animals. He especially likes big cats – think lions, tigers and cheetahs, oh my! I asked him a very simple question, “Do you think you can get dressed fast like a cheetah or slow like a snail?” By turning it into a game, I made the moment special for him because I took the opportunity to create some quality time. I’ll let you use your imagination as to which one he chose.