Mindful Expressions of Love

The theme of the month tends to feature expressing our love.

“The 5 Language of Love” is a great resource for any close relationship, including children. The book summarizes five love expressions:

Physical: like hugs and kisses
Words: like saying “I love you”
Experiences: like going to the movies or hiking together
Objects: like jewelry or toys
Deeds: like cleaning up the house or shoveling snow

It’s an interesting topic to discuss because results can surprise you. For example, I assumed my sons wanted hugs and kisses. While true for my youngest, the others preferred one-on-one time (experiences) or telling them how I noticed specific actions (words).

Discussing preferences for how we like to give love can be different than how we like to receive love. For example, I prefer experiences rather than gifts. However, my sons often like to express their love through objects they build. Knowing these gifts are their preferred way to give love makes them more significant.

Having the conversation and taking the time to understanding one other – more then the expression itself, is the root of love. “Seeking to understand” how our loved ones prefer to receive love and how our loved one’s prefer to give sends the message that they are important and validates a sense of belonging. Ultimately, if we are mindful to show our love in their preferred way, they feel understood.

Beyond the 5 languages of love, another useful tactic to try, especially with very young children, is “stay listening.” Imagine witnessing an intense temper tantrum. Instead of trying to fix the problem or suppress it, simply say: “tell me more.” Continue gently using the statement even while they yell, sob, or cry. At the end ask: “anything else?” over and over again until they are done. For the very young or those having trouble verbalizing their feelings, try suggesting what they may be feeling. For example, you may say “you seem are upset because you really want that toy and you are angry you don’t have it.” Then continue with the magic phrases and filling in the gaps as needed. As the intensity dissipates, there’s often a sigh of relief. Make eye contact after the cleansing breath and you will see a raw connection of pure love.

Regardless of expressing your love through the “five languages” or “stay listening,” the result is a sense being understood and feeling important because someone cares – which ultimately is love.

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