I think I mentioned this before, but I've been reading The Five Love Languages of Children. I am currently reading the chapter called "Discipline and the Love Languages" and after I finished reading it, I looked at God (well, I looked up) and said, "Do you think You could have brought this to my attention a wee bit sooner? Life sure might have been a tad bit easier."
I honestly feel a bit daft for not recognizing that I should be doing things differently than I currently am, especially with my background in childhood development and education. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly all that training goes out the window when it comes to my own kids. With my own kids, I just want them to BEHAVE, you know? (I'm quite realistic, yes?) Anyway, here is the question I have been asking when my children misbehave: "What can I do to correct her behavior?" Apparently, this is the WRONG question. What I should have been asking is this: "What does this child need?"
The whole premise behind this is that children misbehave a majority of the time because his/her love tank is not full. Even though we as parents know that we love the child and even though we may express that love, there is a chance that how we express it and how they receive it don't fully match up. The authors state that if the parents ask "What can I do to correct her behavior?" we usually resort to the answer of "punishment." However, "when we resort to punishment first, later we cannot easily consider the real needs of the child" (124). Basically, what I think the authors are saying is that if we can discern how our children receive love (physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, or quality time) and then actively seek to love them in those ways, we will see a decline in their misbehavior simply because they feel loved and are not acting out of desperation, trying to get our attention. They go onto say that a child who feels genuinely loved will also respond better to discipline because they are already secure that the parent acts out of love.
I, myself, am really still in the place of trying to process all this. And I recognize that it is going to take me a bit to unlearn some of my old behaviors. What I am actively trying to do is to consider what is prompting my children's misbehavior and what I may be lacking in giving to them. I have seen fruit borne out of this whole love language thing, mostly with my oldest daughter (she's 6). She is a big time physical touch girl. When she starts getting angry or impatient, I have started to gently put my hands on her shoulders and pull her closer to me before I start speaking to her. Many times she will just crumple into me and her heart becomes much softer. The defenses go down and I honestly feel that she is in a better place to receive my words. While she may not like the words that are coming out of my mouth (words of discipline and training), she is able to receive them better because she feels my love in the physical touch before I even begin talking.
I would love to know y'alls thoughts about all this. I'm always wanting to learn how to better love and teach my children!
Linking up with Erin today at Mama's Heart!