This article talks about one of the 5 love languages, words of affirmation, and what it entails.
Some people may think that “words of affirmation” is relatively cost-effective compared to the other love languages as it requires only the verbal expression of love. We all know that children learn and absorb what they see and hear the fastest. Research has shown that younger children are at the optimal stage to learn a new spoken language, as their brains are able to absorb much easier during these formative years (as compared to a young adult). Hence, being a verbal expression of love, “Words of Affirmation” are also the most easily picked up by children.
What are Some Examples of ‘Words of Affirmation’?
Words of affirmation can be expressed in different forms. They can be used to express love and endearment, where you tell your child how much you treasure and love them. It can also be used as appraisal, to affirm them for their efforts or achievement.
In the event that your child may have under-performed or failed to meet expectations, it can also serve as a form of encouragement. You should move away from the outcome, and instead focus on appraising the process and effort. Such affirmations may also help to open up discussions with your child to talk about how they can improve in the future. For example, if your child fails a test in school, instead of focusing on their results, you can appraise them for the effort they have put in to study for the test.
What if My Child Does Something Wrong?
When a child misbehaves or commits an offence, can there still be words of affirmation? Yes! But this should not be towards the undesirable action. If a child does something wrong but admits their mistake and takes ownership, we can affirm their courage and integrity. Hence, this love language can also serve as a form of guidance for your child.
On the other hand, if your child refuses to admit to their mistake, what can we do? One way of confronting them is to narrate a story about a child whom owns up to his mistake, and verbally affirm this child (in the story). This is so as to alleviate your child’s fear of being punished, and letting them understand that there can be positive outcome for owning up to a mistake.
At the end of the day, your child will copy words that you say, and form their own understanding of the contexts of these words. Hence, the impact from using words of affirmation can help improve your child’s self-esteem and mental wellness, and also elevate their self-efficacy.