Thursday, December 12, 2013

Love Language #2: Words of Affirmation

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on chapter 3 of The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D.  Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different.  Below are the things that impacted us the most.  We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well.  We encourage you to read the entire chapter to get the most you can possibly get out of this study.)

In Chapter 3 Love Language #2:  Words of Affirmation, we learn about the second love language, words of affirmation.  Words can impact us.  They can build us up or tear us down.

The following moved me the most:

"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 are like a gentle, warm rain falling on the soul; they 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 a lifetime.
Conversely, cutting words, spoken out of short-lived frustration, can hurt a child's self-esteem and cast doubts about his abilities."  (Page 45)

What kind of words are you speaking?  We need to guard our mouths and make sure that what is pouring out of us into our children is uplifting and positive.  That's what we want them to feel.  Even if you mainly speak words of affirmation to your child, as soon as the negative, cutting words are spoken, they hold on to those.

The authors continue on page 47 with the following…

"Of course, we want to praise children we care about, but we want to make sure that the praise is both true and justified.  Otherwise they may regard it as flattery, which they can equate with lying."  (p. 47)

Be sure to read this chapter to learn how to truly praise and encourage your child.

When I think about this chapter with my son who has autism, it's hard sometimes to truly tell if he's understanding what I'm trying to speak to him.  Does he hear the words of affirmation?  I believe he hears it. He may not get that little grin that his brother gets when I speak words of affirmation to him, however, deep down in side he's storing these words to help him through the tough moments.  I love the authors also included the following:

"Long before they can understand the meanings of words, children receive emotional messages.  The tone of voice, the gentleness of mood, the ambiance of care all communicate emotional warmth and love."  (p.  46)

I believe our children on the spectrum are very in tune to our emotions.  Some days, I feel like my son is more in tune to how I'm feeling than I am even aware of.  There are moments where he will just be staring at me and say "oh, Mommy so frustrated." or "You're proud of me!"  or even "Mommy's so tired."  He knows by the look on my face how I'm feeling.  My emotional messages are either giving him his words of affirmation or throwing in the negative feelings.  It's hard because most of the time I'm not even aware of these looks on my face.  This chapter has taught me to not only be sure the words that are coming out of my mouth are encouraging and positive but also that the look on my face is showing this as well.  I don't think we have to go around smiling all of the time.  However, I bet if we spent some time noticing our facial expressions, especially while talking with our children, we will find ways to speak to them in a more uplifting way.

"Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin."  
-Proverbs 13:3