by Terri Michel
If a person’s emotional “love tank” is not filled as a child, it can create a hole inside of them that is hard to fill as an adult. Numerous studies show the importance of a child’s receiving love and affection for him or her to achieve happiness and success in life. On the flip side, childhood abuse and a lack of love can cause physical and emotional problems that can follow people throughout their entire lives.
The following actions are of the utmost importance if you want to fill a child’s love tank, whether that child is your own or someone else’s child running through the church.
1) Communicating Through Their Primary Love Language
Do you ever sense an emotional gap between you and your child that you wish you could remove? We love our children so much, but do they understand how much we love them? Each child has their own way of receiving love. Our knowing their primary love language allows them to receive our love. According to the book The Five Love Languages of Children1 by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, the five basic love languages are tender touch, supportive words, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Communicating love to a child through their primary love language helps the child to be able to receive that love to its fullest. The older a child gets, the easier it is to identify their primary love language, although it’s important for children to receive from all five love languages. The Five Love Languages of Children is a useful tool to help us understand our children better so we can help fill their emotional love tank to the fullest.
One of the most important ways we can fill our child’s love tank is to teach them about God’s unconditional love. Whether we are parents, teachers, grandparents, or children’s ministry workers, we can all have a part in teaching children about the awesome, eternal love of God. Before the beginning of time God knew them and loved them. They are all precious in His sight! We must teach them that God loved us all so much that even though we were born sinners, God sent His son, Jesus, to spare us the punishment we deserved. It is important for children to know that they can talk to God anytime and anywhere.
Singing biblical songs with children is a fun teaching device. I remember singing “Jesus Loves Me” as a child. It helped me even then to understand God’s love. Sharing Bible stories at home or at church with children also teaches these truths.
The words from a song by Ray Boltz, “Thank You for Giving to the Lord,”2 are an inspiration to me:
Imagine one day in heaven learning that a child found the Lord because you took time out to lovingly teach him or her.
3) Talking and Listening
Talking with, listening to, and all other forms of communicating with our children help them feel valued and fills their emotional love tank. It also helps them develop their communication skills with others, giving them more self-confidence.
Ask your children what is important to them. At church, get to know children’s names. Show interest in them, and when they open up, listen. Praise a child when you see them being kind or helpful. Have little conversations with them and smile at them. Children feel loved when we show genuine interest by talking and listening. I still feel the warmth I experienced as a child when a dear older lady at church would talk to me. Catch these moments while you still have the opportunity. It’s surprising how quickly newborns become little people walking around and talking.
4) Serving as a Role Model
Be a good example for children to follow. Demonstrate the importance of loving God and making Him your top priority. Ground yourself in His Word. It transforms our lives, enabling us to be that godly role model.
Letting God’s light shine through us to our kids will inspire them to understand more of God’s unconditional love. What a remarkable love tank filler! Go to church with your children. Not only will your children learn about God, but the teaching they receive will also influence future generations to be faithful in learning about our precious Savior. Our children must see us trust God even when we don’t always have answers. Our example will give our children inner peace, knowing that God is in control of their lives and is sovereign over all.
5) Treasuring Them
Treasure your children! Their knowing they are treasured helps keep their love tanks full. When I was a young mother and my children were small, an older man at church told me to treasure those days and not allow myself to become too busy. He told me he had worked too hard and didn’t appreciate his children as much as he should have. His children had grown up and moved away. He regretted that he had not treasured those years as much as he should have. I knew he was right, and I would repeat his words over and over in my mind through the years. Yet somehow work and life took its toll, and looking back, I wish I had treasured my children more. I now understand how quickly the years pass, never to return. Our children are growing so quickly and absorbing everything they see, hear, and touch.
I’m a grandma now, and I deeply adore and treasure my grandchildren. It’s an astounding and humbling thought that by pouring love into our children’s lives and telling them about God, we can influence them, our grandchildren, and even our great-grandchildren. The influence of unconditional love shown to our children can flow through to future generations because we filled our children’s love tanks! May our children develop a faith that will go on and on and on.
About the Author
Terri Michel and her husband, Dan, live in Ankeny, Iowa. God has blessed them with four children and nine beautiful grandchildren whom they love dearly. Terri works with her daughter Nicole Beaird in children’s ministries at Journey Church of the Open Bible in Urbandale, Iowa.
1Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children (Northfield Publishing, 2016).
2Boltz, Ray. “Thank You for Giving to the Lord.” Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group, 1988.