This is my fourth week of writing about Gary Chapman’s book the Five Love Languages. I have written about gifts, words of affirmation, quality time and today I’d like to introduce (or re-introduce) to you the love language of physical touch.
I just feel like I need to say that swatting, the whack and the cuff are not a appropriate way to express this love language. I did tell my kids that I was writing about physical touch and they had a great time showing each other how much “love” they could give each other.
As humans we need community but not all of us need to be cuddled and “hugged up”. For whatever reason some people just are uncomfortable–I try to be respectful of that. I have one child who did not want to be hugged or cuddled–oh my that was hard for me. I “wear” my kids and created some really cool baby slings for them as they grew . . . I often wore two kids at once! When a child craves that closeness, giving it to them is the easiest way to have a good day because they seem so much happier. So the baby that did not want to be in my face–I pointed outward in the sling or front pack. My last child was in a backpack and he loved that–he has some challenges that we have been working through since day one but slow and steady will win the race! My solution was to wear him on my back and hold him as much as I could.
I have two children with sensory issues–one loves physical touch and movement (swinging, bouncing, biking) and the other feels like touch is almost a violation to his “being”. Our house needs to be really creative with creating an environment that honors each child when it comes to touch, smells, sounds . . . and it is challenging explaining to the rest of the world by they can’t just “touch” my kid.
My fourth baby did not want to be held by me but loved being held and wrestled with his brother. I need to be open and realize that I just wasn’t doing the touching the way that baby wanted it. Even when I tried to do the same thing big brother did–it didn’t work. #4’s connection was with his brother not me, and only big brother could address his love language. Fast forward until now I do worry that my baby will think that all big boys are his wrestling buddies so we are working on setting some boundaries.
I incorporate physical touch into the day in a variety of ways:
- When my kids were babies I always gave them a massage after bath–I used a variety of oils–it really depended on the child. I still rub the foreheads of my girls each night. (not gonna lie–I do not always do this joyfully–I start out crabby until I realize how important it is for me to stop, pause, and pray over my girls).
- I read aloud to the kids and I always try to have a child on each side–just sitting next to each other. Or I’ll read sitting on their bed–that is a big deal and I’m not sure why. At the cabin where things are “dialed down” we will have a bed party, reading for hours and taking turns–the kids love the bed party. I also split kids up during church so that I can have one on each side. Church often dissolves into a game of “kid checkers” as I move and jostle to get just the right balance.
- We are an active house–we play basketball and soccer together and get physical there. The pool is my favorite place for physical touch–I love singing Kindermusik songs and throwing the kids in the air–whipple doodle, whipple doodle, whipple doodle, WEEEEEEE, as they fly in the air.
- I hug my kids several times a day–often picking them up and spinning them. Even my big kid thinks its fun. I start each day with a hug and end each day with a hug–I call them my morning hugs and my goodnight hugs.
- I am not a big high-five person, but that does count as positive physical touch. Recently my #4 learned the up high, down low, too slow version of High Five and he thinks it is the funniest thing ever . . . I respect that is his version of the love language.
- Simple holding hands. It really is for more than just parking lots!
- Floor time–if I lay on the floor I will have as many kids that are in my house at that time piled on top of me. I randomly say “dog pile Mom” and lay dow to see who hits first and hardest. We love dog pile in our house and the kids use it to “make up” with each other after a fight. I’m do not pretend to understand the logic of the kids I just write about it. My guess is that it is equivalent to a boy hug.
- We work in the kitchen quite a bit together–that time of working side by side gives us a time to be together–often opening the window of opportunity to talk. The kids get so excited when I lift them onto the counter (normally a forbidden activity) and look them right in the eyes and talk.
- Swinging, stroller rides, rides in the burley thing–as soon as my kids see a swing they beg “push me, push me”, or a wagon–“pull me”, even if you are not exactly touching them all the time it counts. I have spent, no exaggeration, 100’s of hours pushing kids on a swing and singing songs. They love that–and I learned to not think about the dirt on the kitchen floor, but to embrace and enjoy that time with them.
- Slug Bug (when you see a VW bug you slug the other person) is currently our families favorite way of showing affection. The kids are developing their own ways of expressing themselves through physical touch–slug bug, sports, fixing each other’s hair, wrestling and high fives.
The love language of touch really does evolve and change with each child as he develops. What works for my smallest no longer works with my big kid.
I had a break in writing this post . . . as my husband was getting ready to leave for the day he said good-bye to each child–in his own way–one child was pick upside down, one had a belly rub, the other he brushed hair, and the final child was a huge hug. I suppose I should do a list of the things my husband does . . . so this post will be longer than most!
- Plays soccer with the kids.
- Gives belly rubs.
- Chases them around the house.
- His own version of Dog Pile.
- Plays basketball.
- Gives them a hug good-bye in the morning and a hug good night in the evening.
- Goes to all their sporting events . . . (sometimes we divide and conquer but mostly he goes to every game).
- The kids get to take turns sitting by him on the couch while he reads.
- He helps the kids with coats and shoes in funny ways–“the sock is gonna eat your foot–yum, yum”.
- If the kids aren’t already up (they usually get up at the crack of dawn) he will go in and gently wake them up with a song and a pat.
Be Blessed as you work out the best ways to spend with your kids.