Love language #2: Words of affirmation

The second love language is words of affirmation

Some children feel their greatest sense of love in expressions that affirm them.In communicating love, words are powerful. Words of affection and endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance all say  “I care about you.” Such words nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Even though such words are quickly said, they are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for life.

Conversely, cutting words, spoken out of short lived frustration, can hurt a child’s  self- esteem and cast doubts about his abilities.

Long before they can understand the meanings of words, children receive emotional messages. The tone of voice, the gentleness of mood, the ambience of care, all communicate emotional warmth and love.

Praise and affection are often combined in the messages we give to a child. We need to distinguish the two. Affection and love mean expressing appreciation for the very being of the child, for those characteristics and abilities that are part of the total package of the person. In contrast we express praise for what the child does, either in achievements or behaviour or conscious attitudes. Praise as we are using it here is for something over which the child has a degree of control.

Because you want words of praise to be genuinely meaningful to your child, you need to be careful  about  what you say. If you use praise too frequently, your words will have little positive effect. Children know when praise is given for justified reasons and when it is given simply to make them feel good, and they may interpret the latter as insincere.

Frequent random praise is risky for another reason. Some children become so accustomed to this type of praise that they assume it is natural and they come to expect it. When they are in situations where such praise is not given, they assume something is wrong and become anxious.

The word encourage means to instill encourage. We are seeking to give children the courage to attempt more. By our words, we either encourage or discourage the child’s efforts. Maybe you find it difficult to use encouraging words. Keep in mind that one aspect of feeling encouraged is feeling good physically. Exuberance and vitality require energy, this means as parents we need to be in the best possible health physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we feel encouraged we are better able to encourage our children.

The greatest enemy toward encouraging our children is anger. This means that a thoughtful parent will do all in his power to assuage anger – to keep it to a minimum and to handle it maturely.  The volume of a parent’s voice has great influence over a child’s reaction to what the parent says. It takes practice to speak softly but we can all learn how to do it. Being pleasant and decreasing anger will pay off many times over. When we try to encourage our children in a particular matter, they will more likely respond favourably rather than reject our ideas.

Encouraging words are most effective  when they are focused on a specific effort  your child has made. The goal is to catch your child doing something good and then commend him for doing it.

Children need guidance and all are guided by someone. If you as their parents are not their primary guides, then other influences and individuals assume that role – television, school, other adults, or children.  Loving guidance always has the child’s best interest in mind. It’s purpose is to help the child develop the qualities that will serve him well in the future.  Words of guidance must be given in a positive way. The negative is necessary, but only as part of the guidance we give our children. The supreme law is the law of love, and it is loving, positive guidance that our children so desperately need. If we can guide them into positive, meaningful pursuits, they are less likjely to fall prey to the perils we want them to avoid.

Parents who offer words of loving guidance will be looking closely at the interest and abilities  of their children and giving positive verbal reinforcement of those interests. Negative aspects of child guidance can be verbalized in a loving manner. – The five love languages of children