“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words never harm me.” Remember hearing that as a kid? Or perhaps you have even said it. Well, words do hurt. In fact, although they don’t break bones, they can break a child’s spirit. And if the child’s love language is Words of Affirmation, it can be devastating.
Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In other words, think before you speak to avoid hurting your child.
What is your tone? When you speak to your child, it should be loving and comforting, not mean and hateful. Believe it or not, your child will remember the tone more than what you said.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1
1. Don’t compare your child to anyone. It can be very painful for a child to hear you say, “Why can’t you be like Jody?” Or “Why do you have to be like you are.” Or, “Your brother would have done it right.” Comparing your child with others can break his spirit and can hurt his self-esteem. God made each of us unique. He doesn’t compare us, what gives us the right to compare anyone?
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. ~Psalm 139:13-14
2. Don’t Accuse your child. Even if you know your child lied, don’t yell and call him a liar. It is best to state the facts and discuss the consequences. Use it as a teaching moment.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. ~ Psalm 37:30
3. Don’t say things that you can’t carry through. “I am going to send you to live with someone else.” You know you have no intentions of doing it and it just serves to confuse your child. He’ll think you won’t carry through with other things you say.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3
4. Don’t ask your child a question that you know the answer to but don’t want him to answer. Asking your child a question and then telling him to be quiet just serves to aggravate him and you.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14
5. Don’t be demeaning. Calling your child stupid, idiot, lazy or tell him that he can’t do anything right. It isn’t true, it’s hurtful and if you say it repeatedly, your child will start to believe it.
Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21
6. Don’t minimize your child’s feelings. Acknowledge his feelings, they are real to him. Children feel real hurt, real disappointment from their friends. Encourage them to talk but do not disregard their feelings.
Wise words satisfy like a good me; the right words bring satisfaction. ~ Proverbs 18:20
7. Don’t give up on your child. It is normal to get upset, frustrated and aggravated and want to through your hands up when you’re stressed and the kids are exhibiting bad behavior. Whatever you do, don’t say things like, “I’m done”, “I’m through with you,’ or “I quit.” This hurts your child and he can feel like you no longer love him.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:39
8. Don’t sink to your child’s level. If your child tells you that he hates you, don’t respond in kind or say something like, “I wish I had never had kids.” Those words are very harmful and could have lasting negative effects. Just let him know that you will always love him and nothing will ever change that.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
9. Don’t exclude your child. If you are talking to an adult and your child comes in, introduce your
your child as you would a friend, don’t ignore him. This teaches child politeness and makes him feel wanted.
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Titus 2:7
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ~ Ephesians 4:29
Words can hurt children. The wrong words, the wrong tone and the wrong body language can scar a child emotionally, can shatter a child’s self-image and can even turn him/her into an emotional cripple. You may be thinking that you would never say or do anything that could harm your child in that way. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is done unknowingly. The good thing is, God has given us just what we need in order to take care of His gift to us, our children.
Below are some common situations that may require you to respond to your child and how you should respond based on scripture. Some of these can present a challenge especially when things are hectic. But remember, awareness and practice make a big difference.
1. Listen, do not interrupt your child. If you ask your child a question and you don’t like the path it is taking, do not interrupt. Interrupting negates his feelings and if done repeatedly, it could lead to low self-esteem. Afterward, affirm the conversation, but make sure it is sincere and honest.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3
2. When you have made a mistake say, “I’m sorry”. This teaches them how to apologize and how to take responsibility for their actions. “I’m sorry” can also serve as words of affirmation for your child.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32
3. Limit when and how you tease your child. Children don’t think abstractly enough to get sarcasm, which relies on high-level reasoning. And, even the jokes they do get, can internalize them, resulting in negative effects. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you.
Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. ~ Ephesians 5:4.
Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. ~ 2 Timothy 2:16
4. Don’t overuse the word, “No.” Sometimes you have to say, “No.” However, if you say it too much your child will start to “turn you off.”
The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; Proverbs 15:28a
5. Don’t yell or scream. Yelling makes children more aggressive, physically and verbally. Yelling is an expression of anger, scares children and make them feel insecure. Calmness, on the other hand, is reassuring, which makes children feel loved and accepted in spite of bad behavior.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1-2
6. Eliminate the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Just think about what this is saying to your child! It sets up a contradiction between your words and your actions which can confuse a child. And it does not help them learn how to make choices.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path. Psalm 37:30-31
7. Don’t pressure him with expectations that are too high. Don’t tell him he will certainly make the team or that he will certainly get an “A” on the test because he studied. Instead, encourage him and after offer the appropriate praise. i.e. “I’m proud of you because you tried out.”
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
8. Don’t say things like, “you never” or “you always”. Speaking in absolutes is almost like not
telling the truth because absolutes are not 100%. Use truthful statements.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24
9. Avoid saying, “Because I said so.” Giving them a reason why something can or can’t be done will help them learn. It is best to be honest with them if there isn’t a reason. Furthermore, the “Because I said so” answer can cause resentment and lead to behavior problems.
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!
10. Don’t exclude your child. If you are around other adults and your child is with you, introduce your child just as you would a friend. This teaches your child how politeness.
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. ~ Titus 2:7
Parents have an awesome responsibility raising children. God left us written instructions to show us how to take care of our children… His gift to us. It is up to us to let God’s Word guide the words we speak to our children.
“Touch provides its own language of compassion, a language that is essential to what it means to be human.”
If your child’s love language is Physical Touch, it means physical expressions communicate love to him more than Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts and Acts of Service. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, in their book, The 5 Love Languages of Children tell us that in order to keep your child’s emotional tank full, you must speak his primary love language but it is important to use them all.
The body’s physical response to touch and the fact that Jesus healed people by touching them emphasizes to me the importance of touch. Physical Touch is a universal love language and no other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. “The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely.” ~Randi G. Fine.
PHYSICAL ASPECTS AND RESPONSE TO TOUCH
The sense of touch gives our brains information about the environment. It helps us feel physical pain, helps us avoid injury, disease and danger. Touch also signals safety and trust. If we’re upset, it soothes us and it helps us feel emotion. Hugs are a powerful way to demonstrate the language of Physical Touch. In fact, a simple hug can activate oxytocin, the love hormone. Additionally, hugs may protect you against illness, boost your heart health and hugs make you feel happier. Studies done by Harry Harlow have shown that there is a psychological and physical stunting and even death in children who are deprived of physical contact. Infants can receive all the food needed to survive but will still fail to thrive if they don’t receive physical contact. This is why hospitals and orphanages have volunteers hold and cuddle babies who have no one to love them. The physical contact is needed for them to thrive.
The Healing Touch
Jesus performed countless miracles and some of them involved touching. To me, His HEALING TOUCH, emphasizes the importance of touch. I also want to stress that the person being healed had FAITH and believed Jesus could heal them. Let’s look at few of them.
Matthew 9:29 Two blind men were following along behind Jesus asking Him to have mercy on them. They went right into the house with Jesus where He was staying. Jesus asked them if they believed He could make them see. They both answered, “Yes Lord, we do.” They had faith and Jesus TOUCHED THEM.
Mark 1:41-42 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus begging to be healed. He said to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and HE TOUCHED HIM. And the man was healed.
Mark 7:31-36 Someone brought a man with a speech impediment to Jesus and begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus, spitting on his own fingers, touched the man’s tongue and looking up to heaven, he said, “Be opened.” And the man’s tongue was freed and he was able to speak. Why? Because of his faith and because Jesus TOUCHED HIM.
Luke 8:43-48 Jesus was on his way to heal a man’s daughter and as usual, there was a crowd around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for 12 years with constant bleeding. She went up behind Jesus and TOUCHED the fringe of his robe and she was immediately healed, the bleeding stopped.
Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Despite the crowd, Jesus knew that someone had deliberately TOUCHED Him. The lady explained why she touched him. And Jesus said that her faith had made her whole.
Luke 18: 15-17 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could TOUCH them. But, when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering Jesus.
But Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” He took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and he blessed them. HE TOUCHED THEM!
Doesn’t it stand to reason then that Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices?
The Love Language of Physical Touch
Unfortunately, there is a sick, dark side to Physical Touch…and that is the inappropriate touch. Parents you MUST teach children that all touches are not good. Please, have this discussion with your child. It is needed in today’s world.
Margaret Atwood is right, she said, “Touch comes before sight, and before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it ALWAYS tells the truth.” Teach your child to know the TRUTH in a touch.
Think back to your childhood. Did your parents say, “I love you”? Did they hug you? How did you know they loved you? Was it just because they made sure you were fed, clothed and all of your other need were met?
I knew that I was loved because my Father, Mother and my Grandmother “spoke” each of the love languages to me. My primary love languages are Acts of Service and Quality Time. I scored the same on both. Interestingly enough, the fondest memories I have as a child are the times we spent as a family watching Westerns. Every Friday night we sat around watching TV and eating snacks my mom made. To this day, I love Westerns and enjoy them even more when my husband or one of our kids watch them with me. Another fond memory is sitting with my Grandmother during a thunderstorm. During a thunderstorm everything was turned off and we had to sit quietly. My Grandmother and I would sit and watch the weeping willow tree in our front yard sway back and forth. Just sitting with her, watching that huge weeping willow tree sway back and forth spoke my love language…quality time. I don’t remember hearing the words, “I love you” but they probably were spoken. The important thing is, I knew I was loved because my primary love language was spoken and ALL the other love languages were met.
As you might imagine, hugs and kisses are the usual and most common way to speak the love language of Physical Touch. If you didn’t receive a lot of hugs growing up, you might feel awkward hugging your children. And if you do, I suggest you do what is needed to start hugging your child. But, if this is you, while you are adjusting to this new way of speaking your child’s primary love language, there are other ways to show love through Physical Touch.
Other ways to meet your child’s Physical Touch need (you can find a list of needs in the book The 5 Love Languages of Children:
1. Hold hands
2. A gentle pat on the back or smoothing the hair down
3. Hold your child or sit close when watching TV
4. Read your child a book and let him or her sit on your lap.
6. High five
In their book, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell stress the importance of avoiding corporal punishment and threats with this child. They suggest using other means of discipline for a child whose primary love language is Physical touch.
Not speaking your child’s Primary love language is like eating just one type of vegetable. At some point, your body will miss certain nutrients and you will start to crave other foods. Likewise, if you don’t include your child’s primary love language, he or she will crave it and may even start to act out.
Remember, your child needs you to love him/her using ALL of the love languages. But, if Physical Touch is his primary language, you want to make sure it is included and used in your tool bag of love.