For many of us parents, expressing love to our children is usually intuitive and delightful. Yet, it can sometimes prove to be more complicated than we think; as we are unsure if we show enough love or worry about over-indulging our children in other cases. Especially since there is no one-size-fits-all formula to parenting, we are often left to methods of trial-and-error to determine how to best communicate love to our child. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling book “The 5 Love Languages”, suggests 5 ways in which people express and receive love – through Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
As Active Parents, here are some simple ways we can show affection and support to our child during their sporting journey using the five love languages.
Giving gifts does not necessarily equate to spoiling our children! Instead of excessively showering our kids with the latest digital devices or the most expensive accessories, we can consider purchasing practical gifts that would inspire them to pursue their passion in sport. We could also give our children sport gear to motivate them to keep up with their active lifestyles e.g., a soccer ball or new sport bag.
2. Words of Affirmation
Nothing says “I love you” more than actually saying it!
Like any athlete, our children also need constant verbal encouragement and validation of their sport progress to keep them going. Praising our children for all their major and minor achievements can go a long way in building their self-confidence.
We could also be more intentional in encouraging them to simply do their best, rather than putting too much pressure on them to excel in the sport.
3. Quality Time
While gift-giving and verbal encouragement are quick and easy expressions of love, making time for our children may prove to be more of a challenge, especially with work commitments in modern families. Some times, spending quality time or simply being present for our children would mean the world to them and certainly helps strengthen your relationship with them!
For example, you could:
- Dedicate weekend mornings for outdoor play or exercise to stay active as a family
- Be their personal cheerleader at their sport competitions or school events
- Plan a family game night instead of using electronic devices during your down time
What is more comforting than to return home after a day of playing sport to your favourite home-cooked meal? Acts of service are often taken-for-granted but effective expressions of love to our children.
Not a great cook? No problem! There are many other small ways we could communicate our support to our children’s pursuit of an active lifestyle, e.g., helping put their exercise gear away when they return home from training.
5. Physical Touch
Hugs of congratulation, when our children accomplish a new fitness goal, or consolation when they lose a sport match, go a longer way than you may know. If hugs aren’t your thing, try high-fiving your child or create your own special family fist-bump to celebrate their wins!
Each child is unique in his/her methods of communicating and receiving love, and there is no one ideal demonstration or language of love. Take some time to observe your child’s responses to your expressions of love and determine which love language works best for both of you. Most importantly, enjoy this process of relationship-building with your child. It may take a while for you to figure it out together, but we are certain it will prove to be very rewarding in your parenting journey!