Lifestyle

Discovering your child’s love language in this Covid-19 time

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 19:36 |
Lyn Gicharu’s children Celine and Elsie are different in many ways, yet she has learnt how to parent each of them. Photo/PD/KWACH WAKHISI

Let’s face it, kids aren’t always the greatest communicators and it’s not always possible to know how your child is feeling or what they need. Here’s how to connect with your little one.

KWACH WAKHISI

The sounds of screeching toys, laughter, wails, in between fights for gadgets such as the remote control are some of the things that have characterised many homes since schools closed in March, earlier than expected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For close to two months now, parents have had to spend more time with their children even as they struggle to put them under control in the confines of their homes. 

Sometimes, it might feel like you’re misinterpreting all of the children’s cues, and nothing you do seem to go the right way. This is where Dr Gary Chapman’s lesson comes in handy.

In his book, The Five Love Languages, he outlines different ways people commonly express and receive love: physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, affirmation, and acts of service. Though the concept was initially applied to romantic relationships, love languages is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your children in meaningful ways.

Understanding yourself

Caroline Bongo, a mother of six says she understands the aspect of discovering your child’s love language.

Caroline Bongo, her husband and their children. Photo/PD/KWACH WAKHISI

“Before I share about kids’ love languages, parents need to understand their own language first. Why is that? Because we tend to give love in the language we understand best.

For example, if a parent’s love language is gifts, they naturally assume that it is everyone’s love language.

Hence, if you find a parent showering gifts and their child who is the object of their affection does not appreciate it, they completely feel unloved. What if the child’s love language is touch?” poses Caroline.

She says knowing her love language helped her understand that her children are not ungrateful.

They are just different.For instance, while her first child love language is touch, her second child loves gifts while the third loves to be affirmed.

“Since it’s impossible to separately do this all the time, I try to segment my time into all the different things that we can do together,” she says.

Elizabeth Simiyu, a mother of two kids aged 11 and seven says her son loves autonomy. “He is the eldest and prefers to be given a chance to decide his own path and plan his day.

Sometimes he makes decisions, which I feel are not right. In that situation, I normally ask his dad to have a chat with him because he is at that stage where his father’s validation matters a lot to him than his mother’s,” says Elizabeth.

“My daughter on the other hand is a gentle soul. She loves attention. She wants you to speak to her, watch her when she is doing her creative projects such as acting, singing and painting. She values re-assurance on her creativity,” she adds.

Elizabeth creates time for bonding as a family. Playing outdoor games that require team work encourages bonding between the two siblings and during this period when children are at home has seen my children grow close to each other and enabled us to generally get to know each other better.

Besides playing, we also do group activities such as movie nights and family date nights,” she explains.

Elizabeth says knowing your child’s love language reduces the number of disagreements parents may have with their children.

“It is not just about you understanding your child; it is also about your child understanding you.

Knowing your child’s love language helps you to communicate better with each other,” she says.

Different siblings

According to Lyn Gicharu a mother of two girls, Eslie and Celine Gicharu,describes them as being so different in many ways. “Elsie who is the younger one shows her affection by cuddling.

She likes being around me all the time and will accompany me to the shops, mall and even work. Celine on the other hand prefers her own space.

Cuddling makes her feel uncomfortable, but once in a while she will check up on me, knock on my bedroom door to ask whether there is anything she can do for me,” says Lyn.

Further, Elsie likes speaking her mind while Celine likes to know what you are thinking and will have follow-up questions.

“Elsie tells you what you want to hear as long as it makes you happy. As for Celine, if you tell her that you love her, she will ask you why you love her, whether you also love Elsie, the house help, her teacher and so on.

When it comes to spending time together, Celine does enjoy that and will even plan ahead while for Elsie, quality time is when she is able to sneak in my bed while I am asleep, sleep with me throughout the night  then wake up to pillow fights and some tickling.

Celine appreciates every gift you give to her and never demands for anything, unless her teacher has requested for it.

She will jump up and down and give you a big hug if you hand her a gift. Elsie on the other hand likes gifts, but makes demands on the types of gifts she wants,” she says. 

“I have learnt so much from spending time with the girls during this period. I don’t take it for granted.

It has enabled me understand their love language and perhaps ,what I need to work on to make our relationship better,” Lyn concludes.

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