How Does Your Child Relate to Others?

By Milan Yerkovich
By Kay Yerkovich
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By understanding your children's "love style," you can help your kids develop healthy emotional connections with others.

Children have a natural bent that causes them to relate to others in specific ways. By understanding their relational tendency (what we call their “love style”), parents can help their kids develop healthy emotional connections with others. Here are three ways that children might respond to others:

The Avoider

These children do not readily seek comfort or help when distressed. They may dismiss emotions, minimize needs and value tasks over relationships.

How to respond: Give your kids words for their feelings — “You are grumpy because you are tired.” Then help them recognize their emotions and link the feelings to a need. “I can see you are sad. Maybe a hug could help you with those sad feelings.”

The Pleaser

These children are sensitive and aware of the moods of others but not their own feelings or needs. They tend to be overly compliant and let peers dominate them.

How to respond: When you applaud their exploration of the world or let them handle situations, independent of the influence of others, you recognize them as individuals. This builds confidence about who they are as people and helps them better enter relationships with others on equal footing, without always reacting to what others like or dislike.

The Vacillator

These children alternate between demanding attention and rejecting it. They wonder if they are a bother to you and if you love them. They are either happy or mad, with little middle ground.

How to respond: Teach them to express feelings underneath the anger and help them understand that they haven’t been rejected when others just need space.

Copyright © 2016 by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. Used by permission.

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About the Author

Milan Yerkovich

Milan Yerkovich is an ordained minister and pastoral counselor who has devoted himself to working with families and couples for more than 30 years. He is the director of Relationship 180, a non-profit organization dedicated to counseling individuals and families toward healthy relationships. Milan is also a co-host at New Life Ministries, a nationwide counseling talk show with Steven Arterburn. …

Kay Yerkovich

Kay Yerkovich is a licensed marriage and family therapist whose specialty is treating couples using attachment theory as the foundation of her work. She is a popular speaker and lecturer in the areas of parenting and marriage relationships, and she supervises and trains other therapists. Kay and her husband, Milan, are co-authors of the books How We Love and How …

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