The Five Love Languages of Children
We all, as parents, try to communicate our love to our children. If you are like me, you tend to show your love in ways that are familiar to you – either because of how you were raised or how you personally perceive love. However, every child has a special way of recognizing love. Unfortunately, they don’t always jive with our expressions. The result is a child with an empty “emotional tank,” which can lead to emotional problems, school issues, anger, and even depression.
The Five Love Languages of Children authors, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, have recognized 5 unique “love languages” and believe that, while all are necessary, each child will gravitate to one primary language.
This book is extremely eye-opening and insightful. I was, at first, drawn to read this book because one of my children tends to be so much more needy than the others and causes the most problems at home. Seeing as how I have been “loving” them all the same, a light bulb went off when I realized each of my children’s unique love language. While I was filling some of my children’s love needs, I was lacking in others. I am still testing different techniques in the book, but so far it looks like I have 3 different love languages to deal with! No wonder I have some crabby kids…
To start, let’s quickly look at the 5 love languages:
If this is your child’s love language, a hug will mean more than an “I love you.” It can be a hug, kiss, pat on the back, “high-five,” piggyback ride, massages, tickle fight, wrestling match, or holding hands.
Words of Affirmation
If this is your child’s love language, words of praise mean much more than a present or a hug. Remember that the tone of voice is extremely important; as well as making sure the praise isn’t conditional to the child doing something good or bad. Some ideas are saying things like, “I love you, Honey,” and “I bet with your great mind, you can figure that out!” You can also put a note in their lunch, pin their test or painting on your bulletin board, or stick a post-it note on their bathroom mirror with an encouraging word.
Quality time is individual, focused attention. If this is your child’s love language, they will value time with you over a gift or a “great job!” Some ideas are cooking together, letting them help with errands and chores, making a special “date” for dinner, talking to them in bed at night, looking at old photo albums, and reading together. The key is to spend quality time first, and get your work done after. Otherwise you tend to delay and delay until you have no time left to give.
As a stay-at-home mom, this is the area I realized I am the weakest at. Since I feel like I am always with them, I don’t carve out individual time for each child. I tend to get overwhelmed and over stimulated. Taking them all to the park and letting them play while I look at emails is not quality time! Boo hoo…
If your child sees gifts as their primary love language, they love the anticipation, surprise and act of unwrapping gifts. They will display the gift for all to see. Be careful not to only give gifts when your child does something good, otherwise it feels like a payment, like you are “buying” their love. Some ideas are to keep a small collection of little gift around to surprise your child, get a gift for them when you are away, or “wrap” something ordinary (like the couple new shirts you got them for school) for fun.
Acts of Service
Since we are always, in a sense, “serving” our children, sometimes this need is overlooked. If this is your child’s primary love language, they will place high value in fixing their bike, helping them with homework, or making their favorite dinner. It doesn’t mean doing everything for them. Some ideas are doing special things for them when they are sick, helping them practice sports, making a special snack after a hard day, or on a nice day saying, “you go out and play, I would love to do your chore for you!”
Can you sense which language your child understands? I could easily get a feeling for each child’s top two. Here are some ways you can identify your child’s love language:
- Observe how your child expresses love to you.
- Observe how your child expresses love to others.
- Listen to what your child requests most often. (Can you play with me?)
- Notice what your child complains about the most. (You always spend more time with Joe than me!)
- Give your child a choice between 2 options. “I have some time after work, would you rather I come straight home and throw the ball with you or would you rather I stop at the store and pick up some new football gloves for you?” (comparing quality time and gifts) “Wow, you did so well on your test, would you rather I email the family so they know how awesome you did or should I go to the store now and get the ingredients for you favorite dessert?” (comparing words of affirmation with acts of service)
- Simply ask you child to call out ways in which parents show their love for their children and see if there is a pattern.
- If they are old enough, have them give their preferences in this quiz! My oldest boys were surprised at how differently they answered.