Reduce Surliness

Why did I research this?

You know when you are having one of those weeks where nothing gels despite the many structures that are in place to avoid this? I’m talking structures like high expectations, positive reinforcement, empathy, kind talking, fun, chore time, etc. Despite all of these structures, manners have disappeared, clothes are left on the floor, packs up time sounds like torture, sighs are increasing rapidly and there is a general unhappiness in the air. Well, it was one of those weeks in my home. The same parenting was happening but there was surliness day in and day out from my five year old. I sensed more than a bad mood. What was missing I thought?

What did I find out?

Just like a car needs petrol, water and oil to keep going, so do people need to feel loved, really loved (Chapman & Campbell, 2012). Can you picture yourself the last time you felt really really good?  Mine was yesterday when my husband cooked dinner and remembered to find his own recipe instead of asking me what to cook.  To me this act of service made me feel loved.  Quality time can have the same affect according to Chapman & Campbell, 2012.

Chapman and Campbell talk about the five primary love languages: gift giving, positive affirmations, acts of service, physical touch and quality time. We each prefer one or more to the others and feel really loved when that one or two love languages is used often. The others are important too but not always felt as strongly (2012).

I remember a few years back after my second son was born and my then three year old was demanding, attention seeking and easily upset. My community nurse suggested I spend 1:1 time with him daily even though I was so tired. I listened and because his mood and behaviour shifted incredibly, I felt happier and more fulfilled as a mother. I have tried this year in and year out with all of my family members and every time it has lightened the mood and reignited that spark we each have.

Through Chapman and Campbell’s case studies and examples it is clear that the affects of a full love tank are profound and positive and don’t just relate to satisfied learning but a person who is in control of their anxiety and behaviour and comfortable with himself. “When people feel loved unconditionally, they are in control of their anxiety and behaviour.” (2012:p.22)

Some examples of quality time are

  • do chores together even if it does take longer,
  • make eye contact and stop what you are doing,
  • plant something together,
  • make photo albums together,
  • share meals together,
  • camp together,
  • go on a night walk together after dinner,
  • go on a picnic,
  • go to the toy shop and play together with no intention of buying anything,
  • schedule specific date time together each week and make it happen.

Why is this useful?

  • You’ll have more chance of getting your point across about your latest gripe if your child feels unconditionally loved, as the brain does not learn under stress.
  • If one does not put unconditional love first, the so called ‘love tank’ may run low, preventing your child from reaching his full potential.
  • Unconditional love and speaking your child’s primary love language will bring you and your child closer, improve behaviour and let your child know that she is more than enough.

~ SM

Campbell. R., & Chapman, G. (2012). The five love languages of children. Chicago: Northfield Publishing.