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In the last of my three part series, this blog post features ways parents/guardians can show love to their child through words of affirmation. For those of you familiar with the 5 love languages, the concept behind words of affirmation is basically to verbally express how much we love and appreciate our loved one. For kids, it can look a bit different depending on the age but here are a few suggestions that can be playful.
1). Write a note/draw a picture - in case you've missed it, food marketers now sell snacks with wrappers you can write on. See what I'm referring to here. These opportunities to write or draw a picture for your child while you are away from them can reassure them that even though you are apart, you are still thinking about them. Don't want to buy these kinds of items? I hear ya! Use post-it notes or good old-fashioned paper and tape. It's not about the item vs the note/drawing.
2). State what you love about them - during lunch/dinner or bedtime, finish the following statement:
I love your________ (eyes, ears, smile, laugh) because _________ (your eyes sparkle so bright, your ears hear so well, your smile lights up a room, your laugh is so contagious).
The purpose behind making such a statement is to highlight the greatness of your child. Avoid commenting on what they are wearing or how their hair look. Instead, focus on who they are. This can take some practice to get used to doing but with practice it is doable. If you find yourself struggling with this one, simply state what you notice about them. For example, I love your brown eyes!, I love your big smile., I love your loud laugh.
3). Sing a Song - for some parents, it can be hard to verbally express their love directly. This is where singing and dancing can come in. Under the guise of the lyrics in the song, a parent/guardian can lip-sync the words of the song to the child. The key to doing this is to make sure you are looking and pointing to your child so they know you are "singing" to them. Depending on your child's age, a lullaby can also help; Think, Twinkle, twinkle little star.
4). Acknowledge their attempts - while it is important for us to acknowledge success in our children, it is equally important to acknowledge the attempts they make in trying to to be successful. For example, you want your child to complete a task, he/she tries a couple of times but gives up because they get frustrated. Instead of focusing on them giving up, acknowledge the fact that they tried to complete it and it was very hard.
Recognizing this frustration and how hard it was for them is crucial because it validates their desire and willingness to try. The next few steps can be a little tricky depending on the task but offer them an opportunity to take a break from the task so they can regroup. After some time, check in with them and let them know it is time to try again and that you will be there to help if they want it.
Word of Caution: being able to verbally express yourself as a parent/guardian requires your patience and insight into knowing what you are capable of giving. It will also require you to not expect anything in return from your child. Words of affirmation are meant to celebrate your child's greatness. If we go in expecting our child will also say pleasant things about us, then it will change the nature of the interaction from one of unconditional love to conditional love.
Well, that wraps up the three part series that focused on how to show love to your child. Need a refresher? Missed the earlier posts? No problem! For games that focus on "seeing" each other, click here. For games that focus on touch, click here.
Have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to let me know.
Thank you for reading.
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