Thursday, December 10, 2009
High maintenance child = Empty 'love tank'?
GB5 has been pretty high maintenance lately. Always wanting more, never happy with what she has, usually grumbling about something. This isn't her usual way. Normally, she's a happy, friendly little chick, who knows what she wants but is happy to compromise.
I've been going through the cycle; guilt, frustration, anger... then lastnight, after I had a good whinge about our regular standoffs, my husband worked out the problem - her 'love tank' isn't being filled ('love tank' is a term used by Gary Chapman when talking about feeling loved - a person who know's they're loved has a full 'love tank').
We've noticed that she jumps all over Matt when he gets home - without giving up - and is always nagging me to draw with her or read to her... we gradually realised that our little miss needed our time and undivided attention and that she wasn't getting enough. My initial reaction was something like, "Great, just add it to the bottom of my list. Like I have time to do anything else!" but it slowly dawned on me that if we could manage to show her just how special and appreciated she is, she'd probably become a lot easier to be around. Not to mention a much happier child!
We pulled out Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages and had a read through the children's section. We were having breakfast and I was reading it aloud to Matt. The next thing I know, GB5 sidles around the table and plops down next to me, "Keep reading mum - I love it!" How ironic. After I finished reading the section I asked her if she could remember times when she'd felt really loved by me. This is what she said: "Remember that time when I was sick and I couldn't go to the toilet so you carried me there? And when I was home from school and we just hung out?"
It breaks my heart to think that she hasn't been feeling loved or appreciated lately. With two younger kids and a hectic schedule, I can see now that she's fallen through the cracks. By the time she gets home from school, I'm exhausted and gearing up for the dinner/bath/bed slog.
After some discussion we decided that the extra half hour GB5 is awake after her brother and sister go to bed is going to be 'our time'. We've realised that we need to make something of those precious thirty minutes. Maybe read a book or do some drawing with her. Or just sit and chat about our day.
It will be interesting to see the results and if there are any changes in her behaviour.
Do you know what your children's love languages are? How do you make sure their little 'love tanks' are full?