Teaching the language of love
Physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and receiving gifts: These are five languages of love, as defined by relationship counselor and author Gary Chapman, yet some teenagers don’t experience them on a regular basis.
Roseville High School teacher Valerie Erb has made it one of her many missions to teach students about how to show love to other people, while urging each of them to recognize they deserve love, too. On April 22, Erb’s Peer Helpers led the school’s inaugural Language of Love assembly.
As is common of Erb’s approach in her Peer Helping course, which teaches students all about treating themselves and others with respect, the presentation began with a fun ice-breaking activity. Erb believes laughter is medicine for the soul.
“Who knows what a butterfly kiss is?” Erb asked the group of more than 100 students assembled in the gym. “An Eskimo kiss? A French kiss? We won’t be doing that.”
Instead, she had a volunteer come down to the front for her first “Martian kiss,” which involves a student giving another student eye contact, moving in slowly close to the other person’s face and then saying, “beep beep.” Erb, who went through difficult times in her youth, learned to Martian kiss in a youth group decades ago.
After the laughter ended, Erb told a story of a young boy named Teddy whose mother had died and the teacher who reached out to emotionally support him.
“We all have a Teddy in our life. Who’s your Teddy?” Erb asked the audience.
Senior Leandra Weinberg next talked about the importance of sending nice text messages and letters to your friends, and paying compliments to others.
“I just encourage you to use your words in a positive way,” she said.
Senior Nick DesRosier said, growing up, he didn’t have a language of love in his household. His parents weren’t openly affectionate. But his younger sister and brother always wanted to hold his hand and give him a hug.
“I grew into the biggest hugger ever,” DesRosier said. “I love hugs. They bring a smile to my face.”
Junior Hannah Erb — the teacher’s daughter — spoke about how during her freshman year of high school, a friend from her church was sent to juvenile hall. So, she and another friend wrote letters of encouragement to him. Just recently, the boy sent Hannah Erb a message on Facebook, thanking her for making a difference in his life.
“It just showed me that kind acts — the little acts you do — can impact people,” she told her peers at the assembly.
Alex Kelly spoke about the importance of spending quality time with friends and family. His father has passed away, and now he tries to cherish the time he spends with loved ones.
Throughout the presentation, the common theme of Peer Helping emerged: We all have the power to change someone else’s life for the better.