Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Hero: Children and Words of Affirmation

By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

I’ve written about how important it is to discover our children’s primary love languages in a previous post about The Five Love Languages of Children. According to the book, primary love languages don’t emerge until children are a little older, past the preschool years. Until then, parents should share love with their children in all five languages. So this is my first post in a five part series with practical examples of using the five love languages with my own children. 

Love language: Words of Affirmation
My toddler has always been into trains, and particularly Thomas and Friends, both the books and the movies. Lately, he’s also become interested in Fireman Sam, the “hero next door.” When Thomas and his train friends do a good job, they’re told that they are “really useful engines,” and when Fireman Sam puts out a fire, he’s “a real hero.”
Not surprisingly, my son loves it when I tell him he’s a “really useful engine,” or better yet, he’s “my hero,” especially after he’s done something like clean up his toys, or occupies his baby sister with games and songs while I cook dinner. I’ve seen many lists with hundreds of ideas for words of affirmation we can use with our children, but I’ve found that affirming my child using words from my child’s world of favorite stories brings out the happiest response.

Thomas the Tank Engine
When it seems like his younger sister is getting a lot of attention, my husband uses words of affirmation to remind my son we haven’t forgotten about him. So, when little sister pulls herself up to stand, my husband will tell our son, “Look! Your little sister is trying to walk. Let’s help her,” and then they each take one of her hands to help her take some steps. That way, we acknowledge her milestone without forgetting her older brother still needs attention too. It’s very important to do this in a way that doesn’t sow jealousy between them, otherwise it will backfire.

A Teacher at Heart has a wonderful post about affirming children, and recommends that our words of affirmation are “exact, honest, and loving.” My favorite idea from that post: allow your children to hear you praying for them. What a wonderful way to show our children how much we love them – by letting them hear us pray to God for their health, their success, to help them get through their struggles … this I plan to do!

What are some ways you have affirmed your children?