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Category Archives: Kids: School Age

Are you speaking your family’s love language?

What does your spouse do that fills your heart to the brim? What do you do that makes your child’s eyes light up big and bright? We each receive love differently, so if we speak each other’s language we’ll get farther faster.

Marcello and I were introduced to Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages” as part of our premarital counseling. We will be married 10 years this summer and this concept has proved invaluable to our marriage, and as we are now finding, also in our parenting.

I am such a believer in loving people the way they receive love that I end up talking about it in everyday conversation to friends, other moms during small talk, even the kids’ swim teacher. I’m always surprised by how many people have never heard of it.

I planned to do a blog post about it in honor of Valentine’s Day and, ironically, I don’t think there’s ever been a better time for my family to revisit Gary’s studies. The past few weeks I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and my kids are doing their best to trample on any live nerves I have left. One will not stop talking ever. One has an extra-strong whining game. And one is just into everything and breaking my back.

Last year I wrote a post about the week I changed the way I parent. I would say that all of those things still work for us, the biggest take away being sticking to our guns. In other words, no bajillion warnings or not following through. I need to say what I mean and do what I say. Now that the boys are getting older, the love languages build on those foundations.

Now Luca is almost six and Adriano is four and a half. Gary, who also wrote “The Five Love Languages of Children,” says this about the age when a predominate love language begins to emerge. Of course every child needs love from each of these categories, but one will overflow their love tank compared to the others.

Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:13

These are the five categories:

Words of affirmation

“This language uses words to affirm other people.” Encouraging, kind words build up this person. They respond to compliments, appreciation and encouraging words.

Some sample ideas:

  • “You look so handsome today.”
  • “I truly appreciate you taking the time to make this delicious dinner.”
  • “You’re so good at your job. It’s not easy to manage all this.”

Acts of service

“For these people, actions speak louder than words.” Babble won’t get you far with these folks, but doing something for them makes their heart swell.

Some sample ideas:

  • Do a chore he or she typically does.
  • Make a special dinner of his or her favorite food.
  • Think of something they do every day and have it ready for them before they can do it.

Receiving gifts

“For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.” The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant or fancy, but thoughtful and meaningful. The sentiment here is “You thought of me!”

Some sample ideas:

  • Pick wild flowers to give or find a heart-shaped rock.
  • Make something with your hands: paint, whittle, sculpt, draw …
  • Buy a small souvenir to bring back, even if just from the next town over.

Quality time

“This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.” Turn off the TV, put down the phone and get rid of distractions. These people are all about spending time together with quality conversation.

Some sample ideas:

  • Sit on the couch with the TV off and talk about the day.
  • Go for a walk and chat together.
  • Go out to eat just the two of you.

Physical touch

“To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.” These people crave physical contact — even something as simple as a pat on the shoulder, a kiss on the cheek or tousling their hair. Kids even fulfill this need by wrestling! (Gary notes that older kids also still need physical touch, and that boys and girls should be treated the same in this regard. In other words, don’t withhold contact from boys and give more to girls because of their gender.)

Some sample ideas:

  • Sit on the couch close together watching a movie.
  • Give big hugs and kiss when arriving or leaving.
  • Hold hands or offer your spouse a back rub.

I should note also that if used in the opposite way, love languages can be damaging. For example, hurtful things said a words of affirmation person will cut deep. Slapping a physical touch person will wound their heart.

As I mentioned before, Marcello and I are very conscious of one another’s love languages. Mine is quality time — probably the most annoying of all the languages, of course. I value spending time together and talking. When he’s not able to give me this time, I tend to withdrawal, become sarcastic and cold. Sounds like a dream, right? So basically I’m mad at him for not spending time with me, but I’m acting like a jerk. So why would he want to spend time with me exactly? I know. I even annoy myself.

Marcello’s love language is acts of service. One time I said, “So let me get this straight. If I do the laundry you feel loved?” To which he answered yes. And I still don’t get it, but I’m grateful I know because I would never have come up with this correlation on my own. Your shirts are washed, feel the love.

In fact, he is always doing thoughtful things for me. Sometimes makes coffee and sets out a mug and spoon for me. Or picks cuts a rose and puts it on my desk. Or even when he gets the oil changed in my car, he’s showing me he loves me. Because that’s his love language. As a quality time gal, I think all these things are very sweet, but I’d still rather have a chat on couch or go for a walk together. You see what I mean?

You might be speaking to your spouse in your love language, not his, and be missing an opportunity. Gary says most people don’t marry someone of the same love language, so chances are you will have to learn how to best love your spouse. And just in case you’re curious, love languages tend to stay the same for a lifetime.

Now we are trying to apply these same principles to our kids so they feel unconditionally loved, which also coincides with behavior improvements. It’s very obvious that Luca is just as obnoxious as I am about his quality time. He needs engagement, eye contact, conversation. Otherwise, he says “you don’t care” and sulks off (not unlike myself). And if that is not effective, he just keeps talking and asking questions, determined to get the time together. When Marcello and I invest even a solid 20 minutes there is a clear change in his attitude. His love tank is filled up!

I used to think Adriano was physical touch, but now I realize that he was just very young and needed all of the love languages equally. He still gets lots of physical touch from us, but what really makes his heart sing is words of affirmation. Giving praise to that boy brings a sweet, joy-filled smile across his face as he looks humbly downward, soaking it all in. When this need is not met, let the whining begin.

The book doesn’t go into much detail about having a secondary love language, but I have noticed that Luca has a dominant (quality time) and another that comes underneath that (physical touch). If I have only 15 minutes to spend with him, I am trying to engage in conversation with direct eye contact and make sure to rub his shoulder or mess with his hair. It’s too soon to tell with Adriano, at four, what his secondary language will be. And Clara just needs all of them, all the time, all day long.

If you’d like to learn what your love languages are, you can take Gary Chapman’s quiz here.

The love languages have been indispensable to my marriage and I’m eager to continue seeing how they apply to my children. Because I have to be honest, in these early years I do not see much fruit from my labor, but I know it is not in vain. I’m laying a foundation for these kids and it’s hard work!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” — 1 Corinthians 15:58

How about you? Have you ever heard of the five love languages? What is your love language or your spouse’s? Do your kids show signs of one of these yet?

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Merry Christmas 2016

 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. — Timothy 1:15-17

Printable Christmas activities for advent

Printable Christmas activities for advent calendar

I am so excited about having an advent calendar this year! Last year I was thinking of activities last minute and shoving them in the doors when the kids weren’t looking. But this time I’ve got a plan! And I’ll share it with you.

I’m adding a few new things to our Christmas activity list. I thought it might be fun to take the kids to pick out their own presents for family members at the dollar store. I’m also going to let them decorate their own rooms with lights, paper snowflakes and their own crafts.

One more thing. I’ve read about throwing Jesus a birthday party with cake and balloons. That would be fun Christmas day in the afternoon when we’re all staring at each other! Kids love a birthday party and this is a great way to keep the focus on Jesus.

Christmas activities for advent calendar - decorate the tree

Christmas activities for kids

christmas-activities-for-advent-calendar-make-paper-snow-flakes

Christmas activities for advent calendar - paper snow flakes

Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. We’re counting down the days until we celebrate Christ’s birth — the most notable person of all! Here is what is written inside our little advent house. I tried to think of activities that work for all ages, young and old, so we can do them together over the years!

Printable list of kids Christmas activities for your advent calendar

Click to download high-res image.
If you would like a list without the numbers so you can go in any order click here.

Printable winter activities for kids advent calendar

Print activity sheet, cut into strips and place inside advent calendar for a month of Christmas activities

Here are some giving activities to do with the kids in addition to the advent calendar. Because, let’s face it, if your kid pulls “donate your toys” out of the calendar it might be a little bit disappointing. Some of these things will take finesse, but they are very much worth it:

  • Buy presents or donate toys for children in need.
  • Go to grocery store or look in the pantry for food to donate to local food bank.
  • Volunteer at a food bank.
  • Do a chore for an elderly neighbor.
  • Send a soldier a care package.
  • Take some goodies to the fire station or hospital ER desk.

Do you do an advent calendar? What are your family holiday traditions?

More activities

Have you seen these felt Christmas trees for kids? I made it mostly for Clara, but the boys are actually playing with it more. I am really, truly surprised because I had zero expectations. For the tree, I bought a yard of green felt for $3 at Hobby Lobby (after online coupon), and used about five sheets of 8.5x11 felt I had in my fabric drawer for the ornaments. I hung the green triangle on the wall with command strips and postal tape. I'm waiting for the little one to rip it off the wall, but so far so good. Look it up on Pinterest for a more thorough tutorial. There are a bunch of amazing ideas.

Have you seen these felt Christmas trees for kids? I made it mostly for Clara, but the boys are actually playing with it more. I am really, truly surprised because I had zero expectations. For the tree, I bought a yard of green felt for $3 at Hobby Lobby (after online coupon), and used about five sheets of 8.5×11 felt I had in my fabric drawer for the ornaments. I hung the green triangle on the wall with command strips and postal tape. I’m waiting for the little one to rip it off the wall, but so far so good. Look it up on Pinterest for a more thorough tutorial. There are a bunch of amazing ideas.

Watercolor print by freepik.com.