Imagine walking into your bank to make a withdrawal and finding out that your account is empty! There is no money in the bank. Worse yet, you have gone in the negative and actually owe them money. If you continue trying to make withdrawals, you will likely lose faith with the bank and ultimately lose your entire account with them.
It’s the same with kids. You have a “Love Bank” with each of your children. You sometimes make deposits through positive interactions (i.e. spending time together, having fun together, affirming them, sharing hurts together) and you sometimes make withdrawals through negative interactions (i.e. being too busy to spend time with them, breaking promises, nagging them, criticizing their behavior, and lecturing them).
Sometimes you don’t even realize that your love bank account is going negative. But an obvious sign is how your children react to your discipline. If your love bank is full, your child likely has a close relationship with you and they trust you. When you need to discipline them, they are more likely to react with understanding (now they won’t always be happy about it, but at least it won’t damage the relationship overall). On the other hand, if your love bank is empty, then your child likely doesn’t feel a close relationship with you and will be more likely to react through rebellion.
So before you jump into your next discipline, stop and think: what have you done to make deposits with your child lately? If there aren’t enough deposits, your child will likely struggle with accepting discipline. But please understand that making deposits doesn’t mean you should give in to your child’s demands. There must be a balance of loving discipline and frequent deposits. Without limits and consequences, children’s hearts become “me” centered. Without deposits, children’s hearts become hardened.
So what now?
Genuine praise for their efforts, however small. Children need praise for heading in the right direction. This means focus your praise on the effort the give, even if the result is not perfect. When your child works hard on a difficult school assignment, praise them for their effort, even if the grade was not ideal.
Figure out how your child feels loved. Consider taking your child out on a special outing and spending time with them. During your outing, ask them to complete this sentence: “I feel cared for when…” Then be sure to follow up on what they say! You will often find that caring behaviors are the little acts we do over and over again, like spending quality time together or listening to their frustrations.
Create activities and traditions together. Again involve your child. Ask them what they think would be fun to do as a family. And don’t be afraid to involve work as well. This might mean setting aside time every Saturday morning for your family to work together and then play together.