This post is part of the series Showing Kids Love from All Things Kids. Visit the main page for more details and a full schedule. To link up your own post about showing kids love, see the bottom of this post.
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Physical affection comes easily to me. I grew up in a very physically demonstrative family, and when we get together everyone always seems to have an arm around someone else or a head on someone’s shoulder.
So it came as quite a shock to me to have a child who, from his very early days, did not much like to cuddle. It’s not that Monkey doesn’t enjoy hugs and kisses. He does, just not all the time. And he does like to snuggle – in small doses, before running off to do something else. So eventually I adapted by trying to communicate my love for him in other ways, like verbal affirmations, rather than force him to cuddle or hug when he didn’t want to.
But a light bulb went off for me when I read the The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. (For more on “love languages,” see my introductory post). Chapman and Campbell write that physical touch is one of the five ways (or “love languages”) that we use to communicate love, but that this is not always shown through hugs and kisses. A child whose primary love language is physical touch may be more inclined to pokes, pulls, bear hugs, and wrestling matches. Hmm, sounds like my Monkey to a “T”!
And so I have been trying to give Monkey his fill of physical affection, while still being careful to respect his boundaries. If he says he doesn’t want a hug, we might do a high five or blow kisses instead. And rather than being annoyed at his constant playful “attacks,” I try to recognize them for what they are – my little boy showing me that he wants to play and interact with me in the way he finds most fun.
So as we gear up for Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to channel his incredible energy into a game we would both enjoy.
I started off by asking if he would like a “butterfly kiss.” (I knew he would!) For those that have never tried this, all you have to do is lean very close to your child, so that you can “kiss” their cheek with your eyelashes – aka, butterfly wings! Even better is when your child gives you a butterfly kiss back!
So from there I threw out the names of various animals, etc., and we tried to invent how they might kiss or hug. Here is a list of what we came up with. What can you and your child add to this list?
Monkey kisses: Lots of jumping around, of course – leave it to my Monkey to make kissing into a jumping game!
Dinosaur hugs: Give a big ROAR! before squeezing the other person tight.
Robot kisses: Make sure to beep between kisses!
Doggie kisses: Just as you might imagine, be prepared for your child to lick you repeatedly! Chances are, this will be his favorite! Kids seem to find this one hilarious. Mothers, less so.
Giraffe kisses: Crouch down then “grow” yourself really tall until you are on tippy toes before giving a kiss.
Shark kisses: Okay, just kidding. I wasn’t brave enough to try this one. I had a feeling how it might turn out – Use at your own risk!
Now it’s your turn!