It is hard to believe that we are in the sixth month of this year. With school soon closing for the summer break, this means spending more time with our children. I subscribe to Dr Gary Chapman’s newsletter in which he shares ways in which we can express love to others through the love languages. After several years of counselling, Dr Chapman observed that there are five ways in which people speak and understand emotional love. He went ahead to author the best selling book The Five Love Languages and has an assessment you can take to discover your love language. Years later, he teamed up with Dr Ross Campell and together they authored The Five Love Languages for Children.
Before we take a look at what these languages are, it is imperative to remember that all children like to receive love in all the languages. However, in most cases one takes precedence over all four and that is what we refer to as the child’s love language.
1. Words Of Affirmation
Children who receive love through words of affirmation like to be affirmed all the time. They thrive on praise. A parent may either choose to affirm them basing on their accomplishments or their looks. For example “John I like the way to took care of your sister today” or “You are growing into a responsible boy look how you did your homework by yourself”. Statements like this not only validate the child but also communicate your love to them.
A word of caution here, given that such children respond positively to words, it is very important that you measure out the words you use for reprimanding them when they make a mistake. Since they put so much trust in words, a harsh or negative word said to them may not be easily forgotten.
This is our son’s primary love language. Each time I affirm him I often notice that his face lights up and he offers a smile as he says “thank you mummy”.
2. Receiving Gifts
All children like to receive gifts but those whose love language is gift receiving take it to another level. I recall an incident which involved our daughter for whom this is her primary love language. She was about 6 and we had traveled for Christmas and so for that particular year, there were no gifts under the tree. She wondered if Santa knew that we had traveled and whether she would get her gifts when we got back home. Another year, her brother said he did not need Christmas gifts and preferred to focus on the birth of Jesus instead. She quickly disassociated herself from her brothers decision and said she was looking forward to her gifts.
As you can see from these examples, children for whom this is their love language treasure gifts and if they do not receive any they may interprete it as a lack of love. It is not so much about what the gift is but about the thought behind the gift. Small things excite them and they feel your love through what you give them.
3. Quality Time
Most children like to spend time with their parents however, children whose love language is quality time treasure this time more. Some of the ways in which you can give your children undivided attention is through reading to them, playing a sport or simply just doing an activity together. Some children crave this time so much such that if it not given to them they will ask for it. A child may say, “I like it when you do …. with me”.
4. Acts of Service
We need to ensure that our children grow up to be responsible adults and so we should teach them how to take care of stuff and not do it for them all the time. However, children who understand this love language feel delighted when you do things for them. You can hear them say “thank you for doing ….. for me”. In essence what they are saying is thank you for loving me.
5. Physical Touch
Research on child development shows that babies who are held and stroked develop better emotionally than those who are left without physical contact for a long time. Children who understand this love language tend to crave things like hugs, kisses etc. They feel loved when in addition to speaking or demonstrating your love in any of the languages above, you combine it with a touch.
Those my friends are the five love languages summarized. Kristen of Busy Kids Happy Mom has put together this Five-Love-Languages summary with tips to use as you communicate love to your kids using these languages. She also came up with a quiz Love-Language-of-Children-Quiz which you can take with your children to determine their love language.
I would love to hear some of your results after you take the quiz. Did it confirm what you thought was your child’s love language? Please share in the comments section.