The love / discipline sandwich – Lessons from The Five Love Languages of Children

I learnt something important after re-reading The Five Love Languages of Children (affiliate link) over the weekend.

On the subject of discipline, the author emphasises the importance of contextualising discipline in love. That is, when the child is receiving correction and consequences of his behaviour, he needs to know he is first of all loved by his parents, and also that this discipline /correction is part of that love.

That is, “We love you, that’s why we need to correct you.”

One useful method that Chapman advocates is to sandwich the discipline with love, using your child’s main love language.

So for instance for Vera, quality time and physical affection are important to her, so before I mete out a discipline or consequence, I can give her a hug or hold her hand. Then after the discipline, spend a few minutes with her instead of rushing off. Or I could actually sit her on my lap throughout the whole time. This way, she knows that I am not withholding my love from her, even when I need to address the wrong she’s done.

5 love languages of children

Another tip I learnt from the book is to refrain from using a form of discipline that is directly related to your child’s main love language. So if words of affirmation is important to your child, avoid using harsh words on her. As Chapman states, “Critical words can be painful to any child, but to this child, they will be emotionally devastating.” And if quality time is his thing, don’t discipline by removing that quality time you were scheduled to spend with him.

Now does this mean that if your child’s primary love language is touch, you should avoid spanking? I think for the most part, the answer is yes. And if you do need to use such a form of discipline, try your best to be measured in the spanking, for instance, setting a limit to the number of spanks that matches the level of misbehaviour. And when the discipline has been meted out, remember to hold your child close and reassure him or her of your love.

Reading the chapter turned on a light bulb for me. I’ve been rather stretched of late and I haven’t realised how curt and harsh I can be when disciplining the kids. I’ve been task-oriented, moving the kids through a long list of to-dos, and feeling frustrated when they don’t comply promptly. I’ve (conveniently) forgotten the love part of discipline, and am feeling a little bummed for allowing stress to steal our joy away.

But I guess it’s never too late to start on a clean slate. And I’m glad to have re-read the book just at this point in time when I needed a reminder. I hope you find this helpful too.

This is Little Lessons #19. Little Lessons linky runs on the blog every Thursday. Do grab our badge and link up your little parenting lessons / learning activities below!

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30 ways to love your wife (Singapore edition)

As follow up to the post on 30 ways to love your husband, here is the wife version. I had lots of fun writing this post (almost wanted to go on and on!) and I hope you hubbies get some ideas here as well. 😉

30 ways to love your wife

1) Develop great listening skills. When she needs to share something with you, set aside time for her, and just try to listen and not offer quick-fix solutions.

2) Save your eyes only for her.

3) Make time to date her, pursue her, make her feel valued and cherished.

4) Surprise her with flowers and chocolate (an Awfully Chocolate cake might do the trick too). Sweet surprises always work, any day of the year.

5) In family squabbles, always stand on her side of the fence.

6) Take over child-minding duties when she’s on the brink of losing it. Ask her to head out for some fresh air or a cup of tea or just catch a nap.

7) When she asks you what’s on your mind, don’t say “nothing”. (Making something up may work better than saying nothing.)

8) Bring her shopping and when she finds something that she really likes, give her your real opinions gently. Even if she gets upset with you, she’ll appreciate your honesty later.

9) Make an effort to get to know her girlfriends.

10) Put down the phone and talk to her. Or better yet, institute a mobile-free date night once a fortnight.

11) Send her cute love messages occasionally on weekdays.

12) Don’t cringe or say no when she asks you to buy sanitary pads for her. This is part of her womanhood, embrace it.

13) Help out in the house. Cook or clean something. Men who happily change diapers/wash dishes/hang the clothes to dry are known to be very very sexy.

14) Set a calendar reminder so you know when it’s the time of the month. Then be extra loving and patient, and stock up on chocolate in the fridge without her asking.

15) Pray for her. Make time to read God’s word together.

16) Remember she is a woman, and she needs to be loved, and constantly reminded of your love. (Mornings are a good time to do this.)

17) When you initiate sex, and she’s not feeling up to it, don’t make her feel guilty. Say “it’s really okay, we’ll try tomorrow” and give her a hug and kiss instead.

18) For each time you offer her a constructive criticism or feedback, affirm her for something that she’s done well too.

19) When she gives you the daily report on how the kids were, try to be attentive and interested, even if you’re tired.

20) Give grace when she fails. Don’t rub salt in her wound when she’s already feeling remorseful about something she’s done. You can give her ideas on how to do something better when you know she’s ready to listen.

21) Be patient with her. Give her time to grow into her role (as wife or mother of X number of kids) and rise up to new challenges.

22) Choose family time over hanging-out-with-the-boys time. (Occasionally is good. Often, even better.)

23) Understand her love language. If it’s words of affirmation, give her ample loving and kind words whenever you find a chance to.

24) Write her love notes. Hide them in her handbag. Or use them to wrap a chocolate and hide it in her handbag.

25) If you’re leaving town, pack an activity bag filled with old toys or a new puzzle / game for the kids, and include a token amount of shopping money for her too.

26) Wake her up with a lovingly prepared breakfast in bed. (Think pancakes with chocolate sauce and ice-cream, or a simple french toast.)

27) Allow her to sleep in on a Saturday morning while you bring the kids out for breakfast.

28) Support her when she shares another one of her crazy, whirlwind ideas with you. Or at least listen to it and give her ideas to develop further too.

29) When she wakes up, remind her of how beautiful and precious she is to you.

30) Buy her a thoughtful gift to mark special occasions. (Check out Naiise, Zalora, Hipvan, Asos)

Let’s listen to what other mums have to say…

I feel loved when my husband makes the effort to protect our family time together by choosing us over other commitments, especially when he sacrifices personal recreation or time with friends to be with us. I also feel cared for when he initiates to help me with the kids or offers to baby sit so I can get some me time! Words of affirmation and appreciation are also soothing to the soul but these days acts of service cut it better 😉 – Eeleen

I feel most loved when he loves God and shares God’s word with me. – Ruth

My husband’s a bit like Jiminy Cricket. He tells me when I’ve been unkind, when he feels that something I’ve written lacks punch, or when a photo I’ve taken is just so-so. I’m not ecstatic to receive the feedback, but I appreciate that there is one person in my life that I can count on for an honest, unedited opinion. And even if I don’t agree with him, taking a step back to re-examine my actions or my work has usually meant that something better comes out of it. – Evelyn, The Bottomsup Blog

I love it when he spends time playing with the kids – seeing them laugh and play together is so heartwarming and better than any present he could buy me. Also it’s nice that the kids are distracted for a bit and not always clamouring for mummy all the time. – Edlyn, MummyEd

1. Giving me a break from Noah to have some me-time 2. Surprising me with my favorite dessert 3. Watching my favourite shows with me – Adeline, Growing with the Tans

I love it when he looks after the boys when they wake up at ungodly hours of 5-6am, letting me snooze while he gets them bathed and settled their breakfast. I love it when he quietly tops up the car cash card and petrol for the week, knowing these things rarely occur to me . I love it whenever he gives me a kiss on the forehead before he leaves for work. – Dorothea, A Pancake Princess

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30 ways to love your husband (Singapore edition)

I got the idea for this post when the other day, I bought my hubby his favourite teh si siu dai (tea with evaporated milk, less sugar). I knew he had had a rough morning with the kids and was feeling tired. His eyes perked up when I handed him the drink at the door and he melted into a happy boy smile. It was then I knew that it only takes a small act of thoughtfulness to let our loved ones know that they are loved.

If you have an idea to contribute, do leave us a comment. And remember to read 30 Ways to Love Your Wife too!

30 ways to love your husband

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1) Consciously try not to nag. If you really need his help with something, WhatsApp him or add it to his wunderlist or evernote.

2) Surprise him with his favourite teh-si or kopi siu-dai when he’s had a hard day.

3) Buy him his favourite chicken rice or mee pok when he’s hungry. Better still, learn to cook these at home.

4) Open the envelopes of his mail and place contents in a neat pile for him to go through.

5) Buy him a tee that says “Best daddy. Ever.”

6) Make time for sex and intimacy. This is very important. ‘Nuff said.

7) Don’t criticise him when you notice he’s doing things wrongly while taking care of baby. Give him clear instructions as to how to improve, and affirm him for helping out.

8) When you need help with something, don’t bark your orders at him. Begin with something like this, “honey, I know you’re busy but can you help me with X, Y, Z?” and end with “you’re the best, sweetie.” or “what would I do without you?” Of course, mean what you say…

9) Buy him his favourite bottle of wine. Better yet, make time to enjoy a glass together.

10) Go easy on your credit cards for a month.

11) Plan an adventure or holiday you know he’s always wanted to have.

12) Don’t laugh at his grammar mistakes on a daily basis.

13) Laugh at his jokes (even when no one else does, or even when it’s not sooo funny.)

14) Have clear instructions written down for everything, including how to make/warm baby’s milk, how to give medication if the kids are ill, etc etc. So you avoid potential areas of miscommunication. (It may come naturally for you, but recognise that he may struggle with such little details.)

15) Give lots of verbal and non-verbal affirmation. Try not to criticise. Period.

16) Do everything within your means to support his dreams and career choices.

17) Help him with little things when he’s busy, such as collating his taxi receipts for claims at work, and sticking them onto paper for scanning and filing.

18) Keep your shared work-spaces neat and tidy.

19) Show appreciation when he makes the effort to tidy up the house.

20) Give him time and space to cool off after an argument. Don’t force him if he can’t talk or resolve the conflict immediately.

21) Don’t force him to talk when he doesn’t want to. If there’s an important matter to discuss, schedule it at a good time, and give him a heads-up.

22) Be all ears when he wants to talk (since this doesn’t usually happen very often…)

23) RESPECT him as head of the household. Don’t contradict him in front of the kids, or other people for that matter.

24) Take his criticisms well and make an effort to improve on the areas that he points out.

25) Teach him to communicate in a way that makes you feel loved and cherished. (This is win-win, right?)

26) Make an effort to look good. Be happy and grateful.

27) Offer grace and forgiveness even if he doesn’t deserve it.

28) Discuss important matters with him before making a decision, especially those that affect him and the family.

29) Ask him how you can love him better, then do what he says. (You can’t go wrong with this approach!)

30) Focus on his strengths, affirm them. Weaknesses? Give him ideas on how to improve.

I asked some male friends and the other-halves of fellow blogger mums to contribute to today’s topic. Here’s what they had to say:

“I like it when she shows me respect as the head of the household. On a more personal level, I love it when she shows me physical affection (ie hugs, or even hand holding) when we are in public.” – E-gene

“Do something out of the ordinary together, like learn ballroom dancing with me.” – David, husband to blogger mum Angeline

“To be supported and appreciated for what I’m naturally good at.” – singer songwriter Andy Philip

“Know when I try too.” – Roboman, husband to Corsage

“Follow the plan.” – Mel

“Put the kids somewhere so we can go out for a movie on our own.” – D, husband to blogger mum mummybean

“Wake up at 4am and go exercising with me” – Matthew, husband to blogger mum (and board game enthusiast) Pamela

“Put down the phone and talk to me.” – Gabriel (oops, I think we’re all guilty of this one.)

What’s your husband’s favourite way for you to show more love to him? Go on and ask, it’s your turn now. 😉

Loving ideas for your weekend

It’s the weekend, and I hope you’re in the mood for love. If he’s been busy or stressed out at work, offer to give him a shoulder-rub, brew a pot of your favourite tea and relax over a movie.

If both of you haven’t had the time to sit down and chat, schedule time to do so. Ask him questions: “How are you feeling?” or “How I can love you better?” Or try writing a love letter for him, especially if his love language is words of encouragement. (Even if it’s not, it’s okay. Write him a love letter anyway.)

If things have gotten a little tense in the home, head outdoors for a quiet walk and some fresh air. Let go of the negativity held inside you and fill the void with thoughts of love and hope.

Find a bench or sit by a tree, lean on each other and soak in nature and its peaceful offerings.

Listen to his dreams. Let him in on yours.

Re-discover what first attracted you to him, and him to you. Share these nuggets with each other and giggle if you need to.

Be silly. Do silly things. Be like fools in love.

I hope you make each other your priority this weekend. For once…the kids can wait. For you guys, it’s worth it.

love

Are you speaking your child’s love language?

A close friend recently gave me the book ‘The Five Love Languages Of Children’. I have read the adult version before and so am quite familiar with the 5 basic languages, which Gary Chapman identifies as:

  1. Quality time – the child who needs and desires quality time is asking for your full attention. It’s more about being together than it is about the activity you’re doing.
  2. Words of affirmation – this child thrives on encouraging words; conversely negative words will affect them more than it would a child whose love language is something else.
  3. Touch – this child understands love primarily through touch, e.g., hugs, kisses, hi-fives, tickling, and other forms of physical play.
  4. Gifts – loves to receive and give gifts, and may even pay attention to how the gift is presented or wrapped.
  5. Acts of service -this child loves to do things for you, and sees your love through the different things that you do for them.

There is a simple quiz in the book which you can go through to figure out what your child’s dominant love language is. You can also do the assessment online, though it’s probably more suitable for children aged 5 and above. I did the online one anyway, and the top two results were touch and quality time.

Well, I’m not at all surprised …don’t all young children need these basic ingredients of love to thrive?

Every child wants more time with mum and dad. In fact, kids usually want it so bad, they will go to great lengths to get it. (Usually it manifests as negative behaviour.)

As a working mum, time is most hard to come by, but still it has to be carved out. So I’ve been finding ways to communicate my love in ways that Vera understands best.

Here’s 5 simple ways:

1. Simple craft activities– I’m not a craft-y mum but I can follow simple steps to put together something vaguely artistic, and vaguely recognizable. Like this little pig that I was inspired to do after reading The Three Little Pigs that we had just borrowed from the library. I drew the pig outline, while she had fun tearing up pink paper into small bits. Then she glued them onto the pig’s body, and coloured the rest of the pig. Voila – done in 15 minutes.

Vera's pig made out of torn bits of pink scrap paper

Vera’s pig made out of torn bits of pink scrap paper

2. Reading – She loves nursery rhymes, and anything that can be read with a lyrical tone. I’ve been reading to her since she was a baby, and it’s one of my favourite ways to spend time with her. Recently she’s started to hold the book up (like a teacher) and asking me ‘What’s this?’ – reverse role-play!

*Tip: Let your child sit on your lap while reading

sleepyalpha
Our current fave

3. Hug and kiss – we try to do this every morning and before bedtime. I’m not naturally good at hugging, but I’ve been getting better with practice. 🙂

4. Action songs and silly games – making funny faces, splashing in the tub, and singing action songs such as “round and round the garden”, and “ring around the rosies” all involve some physical contact, and are simple ways to just have FUN. *disclaimer: her dad’s still her favourite playmate, but that shouldn’t stop me from playing with her altogether.

5. Praise when she puts in effort to do something – although she may not YET seem to have a strong need for words of affirmation, I believe all children thrive on positive reinforcement, and I try my best to make sure I praise her when praise is due.

Last but not least, I try to pray with her every night. We think of things to thank God for, and it helps to make right whatever wrong things we’ve done/said during the day…somehow! 🙂

What do you think your child’s dominant love language is? And how do you communicate your love for your child?

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