Hello, I’m Laura from Lalymom. Recently I’ve been sharing Love Language Ideas for the whole family and today I’m sharing Acts of Service Ideas for parents to do for kids. I’m so grateful to Jodi for inviting me to guest post here on Meaningful Mama. Everything she writes has such a spirit of togetherness, love and family, so what better place to share this post?!
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Having read the love languages for couples book a while back I was familiar with Acts of Service. This type of service does not mean doing community service with kids, in case that is what you are looking for. (If community service with kids IS what you are looking for I will direct you to Pennies of Time for so much inspiration!)
When Acts of Service is your Love Languages it means that you feel loved when someone does something for you. It could be a chore, cooking, watching the kids or lots of other things.
I had a really hard time thinking of Acts of Service for kids though. As parent, aren’t we already doing just about everything for our kids?!
It really is explained very well in the Love Languages for Children book though, and it was very eye opening.
In case this is your first visit to my Love Languages series, please note that my posts are in no way meant to replace reading the book. In his love language books, Gary Chapman not only tells you about each language, but also how to determine your loved one’s love languages. You really need to read the book first and then come on back for some real life examples.
Okay, great, you’ve read the book now. Super. Now you are looking for ways to speak your child’s love language.
If you are not accustomed to valuing acts of service, it may be tricky to imagine what would make a child happy when they speak this language. Try to think back to some time you did something for your child and he or she rewarded you with a breathless, smiley hug to say thank you. If that’s not how your child would express gratitude, think of what means gratitude to him or her, and remember whatever it was that brought it out.
Acts of Service Ideas
Here are some ideas and once you read them be sure to download the printable shorthand copy to keep it handy.
Favorite Snack – You get snacks for the kids every day. If your child shows you extra appreciation when you fix a certain snack, or make it look like a flower, or put it in her favorite fancy bowl, you have great insight into an easy way to speak her love language.
Fix a Broken Toy – If your child broke a toy and it was deemed as not a high priority, why not surprise him or her one day and take the time to fix it. Maybe combo this with some Quality Time and ask your child to fix it with you.
Really Help with Homework – Again maybe it seems like you already do this every day. But take a moment to step back and see if your child is struggling with one subject or diving into a new skill set. can you sit and take time to really TEACH and help learn this new skill, rather than just overseeing the homework completion? Teaching something new is a great act of service.
Learn a Skill – Learning or teaching does not have to stop with homework. If your child always shows interest in something you do, or a skill that others have, take some time and teach your child how to participate. If it’s something you don’t know how to do, maybe take a class and learn together.
Practice a Sport Together – You may cart your child to and from practice and sit through endless games, but if they value acts of service maybe take some time together to practice at home. Go to the batting cages, practice your bump-set-spike. Whatever thing they value, try to do it with them.
Once a Week Chores Together – Let me explain this one with a personal anecdote. LalyDad has a funny little habit that I’ve noticed over the years. When he goes to do a task that he could do himself he often asks me to do one step for him. Taking out the trash? He’ll ask me to replace the garbage bag. Putting away dishes? He’ll hand me the silverware. I never got it until I read about the love languages. It’s not that he can’t DO that part. It’s that he likes doing chores together. It reminds me of the movie Up in the Air when a character says, “everybody needs a co-pilot.” Be a co-pilot for your kids and do a one-person chore together.
Bedroom Decor – Help your child decorate his or her bedroom to make it a special place with touches that show a bit of personality. Incorporate his or her favorite colors, toys, books and anything else that is meaningful. As a bonus, once it is looking good, you can teach your child to keep a clean bedroom as a way to respect that special place.
After School Activity – If your after school routine usually involves turning on the TV while you cook dinner or tend to other tasks, you have the perfect opportunity for an unexpected act of service. Once in a while (or as often as you have time) prepare an activity or craft for him or her to do after school. This could be as simple as raiding Pinterest for fun Printables or setting up a No Prep Toddler Activity, or seek out a few After School Activities that really speak to your child’s interests.
Pack a Picnic – Got an errand to run or some other “boring” thing to do today? Why not pack a surprise snack or lunch and go to the park together to eat it when you’re done? This works great for school pick up too. If you always rush right home maybe play at the park, sit and have a snack and do homework at a picnic table for a change of pace!
Build Something – Whatever special skills or hobby you have, try using it to make something special just for your child. You can do it with or without your child. My father used to let me help in his workshop a lot. We made a simple wooden jewelry box together, which I still own and cherish today. If woodworking is not your thing, it can be knitting a scarf in a favorite color, setting up a reading nook, installing a closet organizer, or even making a super cool box fort!
Volunteer Together – I know I said this is not a list of community service ideas, and it’s still not. But if acts of service mean a lot to your child, imagine how very rewarding it would feel to do acts of service for others. Helping your child learn ways to volunteer is like double duty on this Love Language. Create Homeless Packs or It might bring up tough topics but teaching through love is a great way to approach these tough topics.
Volunteer in The Classroom – There are plenty of ways you can volunteer in your child’s classroom that will not only show your child that you care but will be a big help to the teacher as well. This is your child’s turf so seeing you help make it a better place will mean a lot.
Favorites – This one can be adapted any time you know something is your child’s favorite. If you’re headed to the zoo, surprise him by starting at his favorite animal. If you’re choosing a cup her her drink, pick the one that is her favorite color. Add a little emphasis when you talk about it: “Here you go sweetie, I chose the blue cup for you!” Wink! “Look at this shirt I picked for you today- it’s got a dinosaur on it! Who loves those?” Smile.
Teach Siblings to Speak Love Languages – If you have more than one child, foster their love for one another by helping them speak love languages to each other. Help them become Bucket Fillers and use those Words of Affirmation at the end of each day to talk about how they showed each other love that day.
Decorate Together – Holidays are special for any kid, but a child who values Acts of Service would love to help get ready for the holidays by decorating with you. Maybe you can make decorations together, or if you already have decorations for a given holiday, put them out together. Another option would be to surprise your child by having your home decorated when he or she gets home from school.
Bonus Love Language Tip: My super easy, every time Love Language booster tip is as simple as it gets. Did you just do something to light up your child’s day? Tell him or her you enjoyed it. All you are doing is adding Words of Affirmation. Even if Words of Affirmation is not your child’s primary love language, you can boost any love language idea by adding a comment about how much it meant to you.
I think this list includes some great ideas to speak your child’s love language, but even more than that, I think these ideas could help your child find a passion. If acts of service is their primary love language, then you might just be turning them onto their meaning in life. Maybe he or she is meant to be a teacher, a nurse, an advocate, or some other profession that gives back to the community. Taking the time now to embrace that part of your child’s personality will fill their heart with love now, and maybe help them in the future too!
What do you think? See any Love Languages ideas you want to use? Who speaks Acts of Service in your family?
Come on by the Love Languages Ideas for the Whole Family page for more ways to speak love to your family!
I met Laura at a recent blog conference, and I can tell you she is fun and engaging. I really hope you’ll go check out her fabulous blog. Laura is mom to two sweet redheads who fuel all the fun over at Lalymom.com. She shares cool kids crafts, fun activities, free printables and parenting tips too! You can follow her by email, on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.