The holidays can bring up a lot of mixed feelings for many families. Some parents have really good memories of the holidays growing up. Other parents might have some not-so-great memories that they would prefer not to have to relive every year. One tip that I like to give parents, no matter what kind of memories the holidays bring up, is to take the extra time you have with your children and connect with them through their love language.
It can be easy to get lost in the holidays as a time to share materialistic gifts with our children, but what is most important is to use this time to give them the gift of your connection. Make memories with them that they will look back on as they get older and smile about.
In his work, Dr. Gary Chapman outlines that each person has different ways to communicate love and best receive love.
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
We can give the gift of connection with our children during the holiday season through their specific love language. Keep reading for some ideas for each of the five love languages.
If this is your child’s love language, they appreciate the time you take to be with them. The times where you put your phone away and give them your undivided attention. Some examples of how you can connect with your children whose love language is quality time are:
- Be proactive about scheduling one-on-one time with them.
- Notice when they are engaging in the behaviour you want to see more of.
- Focus on playing with them in a way that is special to them, even if it feels ridiculous.
- Focus on connection after an argument with them and repair the relationship through quality time together.
Children whose love language is physical touch get the most connection from hugs, kisses, cuddles, high-fives, etc. These children love sitting on your lap to read a story, holding your hand while you go for a walk, a big hug and kiss before bedtime. Examples of how you can provide children with the gift of connection through physical touch:
- Build in moments of contact during the day, like a kiss on the forehead while they are playing, a big bear hug, or touching their head as you walk by.
- Acknowledge the good things they are doing by giving them a high-five or a hug.
- If you have an argument, include a hug as part of the repair process when you come back.
- If you aren’t a “huggy” person, try to remember that this is an essential part of connection time with your kids.
Acts of Service
Children whose love language is acts of service really appreciate all of the little things we do for them. When they ask us to help them with things like fixing a hole in their stuffy, taking their training wheels off their bike or helping them with an art project, our responses are significant to them. If we cannot help them right away, it is important to respond to them to show that we want to help them, and when we are able, we will, but right now, we are taking care of something else. Some examples include:
- Notice their needs and try to connect with them by helping them occasionally do tasks even if they know how to do it themselves.
- Sit with them when they are getting dressed, help them pack their lunches, make a snack together.
- Find the good behaviour and help them keep the good going – if they are cleaning up independently, help them finish the job.
Words of Affirmation
Children whose love language is words of affirmation thrive from hearing their parents and others who they love giving them words of praise and encouragement. They want to hear us tell them we care about them, they want to have deep conversations with us, and they want us to talk to them about how much we love them. Here are some examples:
- Build in good heart-to-heart conversations into their day, like during breakfast or before bed.
- When you notice them engaging in the behaviour you want to see more of, notice this aloud to let them know they are seen.
- When they are having a hard time, focus on validating their emotions.
Children whose love language is gifts see gifts as a symbol of our love for them. These are the children who will remember exactly who gave them what even after months or years. They will appreciate the little things like a note in their lunch or when you bring them home their favourite snack from the grocery store. Gifts don’t need to be materialistic – here are some examples of how to connect with your child whose love language is gifts:
- Get to know what kinds of things are meaningful for your child, and try to be intentional about doing this with them.
- Write them little notes, print off a colouring sheet of their favourite cartoon, pick up markers at the dollar store, bring them home their favourite snack.
- If you have a challenging situation with them, they may like it if you draw out solutions together.
- Use tangible reminders on responding to challenging situations like a sign for deep breathing or a squeeze ball for stress.
Take some time this holiday season to connect with your child through their love languages, and remember that connection is actually one of the best gifts we can give our children!