Today we will cover Physical Touch & Quality Time in The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers New Edition: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively
The information contained within the pages of this book have held my attention so much that I found it hard to put this book down today. I will try to condense all of the information offered so that you can continue on showing love long after Valentine’s Day to your teenagers and your entire family as well.
There is such emotional power and communication through the act of appropriate physical touch. Knowing when to offer the physical touch to your teenager is key, though. There are three things to consider regarding the physical touch where your teens are involved: appropriate time, place, and manner. Surely as a parent of a teen, you have realized by now that if you hug them in front of their peers they will push you away. They will be completely embarrassed! When you hug them in the privacy of your home, though, they will appreciate your efforts a whole lot more! Try to be aware of their moods, how they stand, and if their arms are folded, that is an obvious clue that now would not be a good time to approach them. If you try to force a hug upon them when they are in an anti-social mode, they will be more annoyed. You have to gauge it just right where the teenager is concerned. At other times, the teen would welcome a much needed hug if they’ve just faced great disappointment, for an example. How reassuring to feel your arms around them offering love, support, and encouragement in their time of need. Another thing to keep in mind is that they want to be celebrated, too, and would welcome your hugs in celebration of a great accomplishment as well.
Here is something else to consider while you’re looking for clues from your teenager as to when is the right time to offer the physical touch. If they are in front of their peers and touch you first, this is an indication that they are open to it from you as well. Just don’t push your luck by going overboard with it in front of their friends. If you really want to be sure they are open to it, focus your effort on appropriate physical touch in the privacy of your own home around your family members.
What are some appropriate ways to offer the physical touch to your teenager? Dr. Gary Chapman lists: hugs, kisses, back rubs, pats, tender touches, massage, and arm wrestling as just a few. My children love when I play in their hair. They also love when I give them a mini facial at the end of the day. I don’t always do this before bed, but when I do, they are able to relax fully and drift off to sleep in no time flat!
Something to consider with the physical touch, though, is that teenagers may be reminded of a nighttime ritual you had where you rubbed their backs as a child. That may be comforting to some still, while other teens may come to resent it on their quest to self-identity and independence. This may make them feel as if you still consider them a child, when you’re just showing them love in the way you’ve always done so.
Another very important thing to remember is never, ever withhold your love or affection due to being angry. When/if this occurs, you have shifted from unconditional love and gone fully into manipulation. Do not withhold your hugs until they do something that you approve of or like.
Sadly, in the world we’re living in today, Dr. Chapman had to dedicate a portion of this chapter to inappropriate touches, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. He provided information on how to seek help for all involved if one has crossed the line.
When you spend quality time with someone, you are offering a portion of your life to them. You are giving them your undivided attention. This is so very important in the life of your teenager!
Psychiatrist Ross Campbell says:
Without focused attention, a teenager experiences increased anxiety, because he feels everything else is more important than he is. He is consequently less secure and becomes impaired in his emotional and psychological growth.
When you are enjoying quality time with your teenager, make sure that you are intentionally seeking to communication by eye contact with your teen, with your words, with appropriate touching, and also with your body language. It is important that you let them know that they are more important than anything else at that moment in time!
While you’re having quality time together, make sure that you’re engaging in quality conversation. Some fathers may think that they are spending quality time with their teenagers just by taking them fishing and sitting in a boat together. That’s great if quality conversation follows the time spent together or during the course of the time they are going to their favorite fishing hole or while they’re engaging in the activity together. It is another thing, though, if you are physically together, yet emotionally so disconnected and are not engaging in quality conversation that the teenager craves. With quality conversation, everyone is free to and encouraged to share experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly and accepting environment or atmosphere. Be sure that you’re speaking WITH your teen and not AT them. Also, don’t pressure your teenager to talk, but let them know that you are available if they wish to do so.
Previously in this series, we talked about words of affirmations. We wanted to focus on what we were saying to the teens. Now we are shifting our focus on actually hearing them and what they are saying. Dr. Chapman offers eight ways to ensure that you’re hearing your teen. They are as follows:
1. Make eye contact
2. Don’t listen and do something else at the same time that your teen is talking
3. Listen for feelings when your teen is talking, then confirm them with the teen.
4. Observe their body language when they are talking
5. Refuse to interrupt them when they are speaking
6. Ask reflective questions when they are finished speaking
7. Express your understanding
8. Ask permission to share your perspective when they are finished
If you do the above, your teen will feel respected, understood, and loved!
Be aware of yourself during your conversations with your teenagers. Do not attack or condemn them, or you’ll surely have an adversarial relationship. Use a positive approach when you share your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Another thing to remember is to make “I” statements as in, “I think … I feel … I want.” When using “you” when speaking to your teenager, they are hearing blame and accusations from you. They will become explosive or withdraw and become depressed. You do not want any of that to happen.
Another thing to keep in mind is to teach instead of preach to your teenagers. Replace the words, “Because I said so …” with “Let me tell you why …” as you attempt to explain your perspective and point of view to your teenager. They will be more receptive if you approach them in this manner.
One very important thing to remember is that teenagers love when you are there to cheer them on during events that they participate in. Having you there to root them on and support them is so very important to them. Consider how much it means to them to look out in the audience to see your smiling face during a volleyball game they are playing in or a dance number they may be performing. No matter what activity they are participating in, move heaven and earth to be there smiling back at them. Make the time! Your attendance shows them that they are so very important to you!
While we are talking about events, consider going to events that your teen enjoys as well. We have taken my teenage daughter to a few appropriate concerts for bands that she enjoys. What completely thrilled her was the quality time we spent together prior to the concerts listening to music together. She was actually quite impressed when I knew the lyrics to some of her favorite songs as well. It made the whole concert experience all the more enjoyable for us both. Score one for Mom!
Go a step further when planning your vacations, too. What we do is try to ensure that everyone gets to do something on vacation that they enjoy. If we are staying four days and there are four of us vacationing together, we ask what that family member would like to do on “their” day. Then we set out to do those activities with them to ensure that all family members enjoy the vacation experience!
Next up in the series: Acts of Service & Gifts!