May I start with a short story? So, sometime last month, my dad enrolled me in a driving school. I was so excited because I had actually been saying I wanted to learn how to drive….Yaaaah! “The time don come”. I went to the school and started my lessons. I started with the theory aspect and the time to practice was when the challenge came. I was trying but I wasn’t just getting a few things and I was making mistakes. To worsen it, my tutor was very harsh on me. He would always shout and smack me whenever I made a mistake…#sighs. I used to be so sad and at a point, I felt like quitting. To cut the story, a day came and I went home with my eyes really red. I didn’t even know when I started crying. My parents saw me and knew I wasn’t fine. They asked what was wrong and I was lamenting on how tired I was because my driving tutor wasn’t taking things easy….and the next thing I heard from my parents was a chorus; “O n try jhoor. Ma sukun” which means “You are really trying. You don’t need to cry”. They went on to tell me I was doing well and that I shouldn’t be bothered by my mistakes. They encouraged me to a point that I felt so lifted and my determination rose like never before. I went to my driving should the second day and the determination and confidence I carried made me do a lot better. Guess what? I’m done with Driving school. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfect driver but I keep practicing and I still get words of affirmation from my parents even when they correct me. I am someone who naturally loves it when people affirm me time and time again. It gives me this assurance that you really care and I feel so loved. Hmm, “Words of affirmation”
At this point, let me quote Gary Chapman; “All of us have an emotional love tank and when that love tank is full, when we really feel loved by the important people in our lives, the world looks bright and we can discuss our differences in a positive way. But when the love tank is empty and we feel rejected rather than loved, it becomes extremely difficult to discuss differences without stooping to argument and slander”. Words of Affirmation is another love language that is peculiar to most teenagers and many parents must learn that or else, they’ll keep having problems with their teenage children. This write up is not just for parents but also incoming parents. Even if you’re just 12 years old and you’re reading this, one day, you’ll definitely become a parent. Teenagers and youths must also learn how to communicate this love language to their friends and everyone around them. Most teenagers have different challenges with people because when they do a little thing, they expect that they will be cheered even if they do it well or not. I expect that if I help you with a task and fail, you should still give me credit. Everyone loves to be affirmed one way or the other but it’s deeper with people whose primary love language is WORDS OF AFFIRMATION.
All of us have an emotional love tank and when that love tank is full, when we really feel loved by the important people in our lives, the world looks bright and we can discuss our differences in a positive way.Dr. Gary Chapman
How do you affirm your teenager as a Parent or how do you affirm your friends or people around you as an individual?
There are three major steps; Give them-
1. Words of Praise.
2. Words of Affection.
3. Words in the presence of others.
Now, let’s go through the three major steps in details.
1. Words of Praise: Words of Praise are words spoken to people to acknowledge their accomplishments or area where they’re good at. Everyone has one thing they have accomplished no matter how small it is. I may be very good at singing. Someone may be good at writing poems and so on. When you notice that your teenager is good at something, it is only right for you to continuously say things like…”I love your writing skills” “You know you really did well in that training” “I love how you mopped the floor. Thank you”. We should also note that in speaking those words, you have to be sincere. Don’t tell someone I love how you sing and it’s so obvious that the person can’t even sing; that’s not a word of affirmation. You can’t also say you love how he or she cleaned the house and they didn’t clean anything.
In speaking with them, when you can’t commend results, commend efforts. Instead of looking at the way she cleaned the whole house, why not think of the 2hours she has spent cleaning it and tell her “You did well, dear. God bless you” instead of saying “How come the house is still not sparkling? Did you do anything at all?” That automatically saddens that individual and he or she might be reluctant to do the same work another time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t correct but at least, commend first. It brings joy, fulfillment and the willingness to do more. Can I hear an Amen? Moving on to the next step…
Words of praise brings joy, fulfillment and the willingness to do more!
2. Words of Affection: When you speak words of affection, you express love to the person as an individual. “I love you” is the commonest sentence parents use for their teenagers to affirm their personality. As common as it is, it is very powerful and reassures them that you care for them. Most parents, especially fathers have never told their teens they love them. Most times, it’s not actually as if they don’t love them but they do not know how to express it to their teens probably because their parents never told them. If you’ve not been telling them you love them, it’s not too late to start. There are several other ways you can also say you love them like “I adore you” “I cherish you” “I enjoy your company” and so on.
When you speak words of affection, you express love to the person as an individual.
Furthermore, most people love when you affirm their outfits and looks. If your friend is putting in a very nice shoe, tell him “Your shoe is really nice. I love it” “Joana, I love your gown!”, “Oh my God, your hairstyle is so beautiful” “You look really handsome today” “Where did you get that wristwatch from? It’s beautiful” Those loving words touch young people a lot. You’ll see them smiling up and down. You have simply made them happy for that day. Even when anyone makes them sad, that exciting feeling might make up because someone complimented them earlier.
3. Words in the presence of others: Parents should learn how to give credit to their children in the presence of other people. There’s something I hate; you abusing or shouting at me in the presence of others people that come to visit our house. I might just start crying unconsciously before you know it. Teenagers don’t like this but it seems many parents do not know that. They like it when you say it in front of family and friends that they are doing well. Commend your friend in front of other friends. They feel more special. Everyone loves Words of Affirmation but for those teenagers for whom words of affirmation is their primary love language, nothing is more important emotionally than the affirming words heard from parents and friends.
I hope you have learnt one or two things today. Stop condemning your teens. Stop condemning your friends. Commend them and correct them with love. God bless you. Anticipate the next love language we will be dropping here in few days time. Make sure you drop your comments and also drop your email below so as to be alerted once we drop a new post. Thanks for choosing The Fire Place!
Written by: Grace Eriiyanu Ayelaagbe [The Fire Place Blog Team Member]
[ANCHORED ON: THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES BY GARY CHAPMAN]