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Mindful Parenting: Love Languages

Posted by on in Peaceful Parenting
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Anyone who has more than one child can confirm that one can have two or three children from the same two parents, raised the same way and the children are as different as humanly possible. 


I saw this phenomenom quickly with my two girls, ages 1 and 2.5 years old. Born 20 months apart, they are night and day in both appearance and disposition. One is cautious, bookish and olive-skinned and the other is adventurous, active and peaches and cream complected. Both, however, have strong tempers and are prone to tantrums and emotional meltdowns because of they are _____ (mad, sad, hungry, tired, overstimulated, didn't get a cookie, etc.). Ah, the tumultous todder years.


The first few sweet months of life are spent learning the cues for our babies' physical needs. Halfway through the first year, many parents snuggle into the parenting gig after they more readily recognize these cues. Things can get a little hairy again as a child approaches toddlerhood and has a flurry of emotional needs they cannot verbally express, but are nonetheless feeling the effects of.  


When our oldest turned 18 months, she started having constant metldowns. Sometimes when people would ask what was wrong, my husband and I just replied "She has a lot of feelings", which was really the best way we could describe what she was going through. Our little person had shown signs of an intense personality from birth and the emotions of toddlerhood were taking a toll on her behavior and our patience. 


It was around this time that I read something about recognizing our children's love languages to better meet their emotional needs. The concept of love languages is one I originally utilized to improve my relationship with my husband and I had not thought of applying this to my other relationships. Love languages are the ways that we best both give and receive love from others. There are five: words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, quality time and acts of service.   


My children are young, but I was surprised to see that, when I observed how my children best responded to me, I could already see their love languages emerging.  At 2.5, my little girl is always pleading “Come sit right here, Mama” as she pats the seat next to her. I’ve learned that she loves snuggles to the extent that  it means she is close to me and has my undivided attention. Her grumpies are calmed from just 20 minutes focused on her - no cell phone, computer, television or extranneous conversations. She is my quality time girl. 


My littlest is just barely one year old but I can already see her primary love languages emerging. She is forever bringing me little “gifts”: a small piece of a banana, a block, a piece of cereal she already put in her mouth but thought Mama might want it instead. Yesterday in the midst of a colossal meltdown, I tried everything to comfort her -shushing, a tender hug, distraction - but the tears kept pouring and the screams kept coming. My husband placed a rubber ducky in her hand and the tears and hollers ceased immediately. She may have another primary love language as she develops, but I'd say my little one is a gift giver/receiver. 


Recognizing love languages is a great tool for understanding and meeting the unique emotional needs of each of child. I have learned that it is also important to recognize that my own natural way of loving my children may not be the way they most naturally receive love.  As an acts of service person, I often want to keep "doing" for my family to love them the best way possible when they often need me to just stop and be present.


This is a helpful tool in identifying your own love language  or your older child's. I find for little ones, it's easiest to just mindfully observe how they try and connect with you as a parent. Do you have a little boy who often scoots close for you to stroke his hair? Does your five year old light up when you tell her that she set the table just perfectly tonight?   

Practice loving them back in the same way and see how they respond. Hopefully you will find your little ones more content when loving them in their "language" and an overall more peaceful household.


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Nicole i's passionate about natural living, real food, community, books and cafe au laits. She can be contacted at nicole@hosienaturals.com


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