A few days ago, Mindy (a blog-friend-who-I’ve-never-actually-met-in-real-life-friend) posted on her blog about her love language. That reminded me of an article I wrote for a local Family magazine back in February and thought I would share it with you as well. Enjoy!
Several years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a book entitled The Five Love Language: The Secret to Love That Lasts. This book introduced thousands of couples to the idea that each individual gives and receives love in different ways, or languages. Although most of us “speak” all the languages, there is normally one specific language that meets our deepest emotional need. Chapman argues that the key to a successful relationship is identifying each other’s love language then tailoring the ways that you show love.
This same principle can also be translated to the ways that we demonstrate our love to our children. Just like adults, children show and receive love differently.
Here are the five love languages as identified by Gary Chapman:
Words of Affirmation: Complimenting and praising our children is fundamentally important to their feeling of self-worth. We must be careful to affirm and praise them for who they are, not what they do. Like everyone, children are going to make mistakes and need to know that we will love them regardless. Words such as, “You have such a strong work ethic” or “I love the way you show kindness to others” are much more effective than empty praises like “Great job!”
Physical Touch: Children need affection in order to grow into emotionally-healthy adults. Hugging and kissing your child appropriately is an important indicator of love. When we show our child affection, this demonstrates that they are worthy of our love. Likewise, many children also show their love through the affection shown to peers and adults.
Quality Time: This is probably the most important love language for most children. When we make time to spend with our children, we validate their importance in our lives. One of our most precious treasures is time…and when we choose to spend it with our children, we are therefore showing them that they are our most precious treasure. Make time to spend with your child and everybody wins!
Gifts: Small tokens of love are important to a child; not necessarily just for birthdays or holidays, but at random times throughout the year. We must walk a fine line as parents, however, because we don’t want our children feel entitled to receiving “things”. Nor should we feel guilty because they do not have everything friends or neighbors have. We can’t buy their love, but we can demonstrate our love through small tokens of thoughtfulness. On the flip side, children who love to make crafts or cards for others are demonstrating the love language of gift-giving!
Acts of Service: Though sometimes children overlook acts of service as simply “what parents should do”, these acts speak love all the same. Making dinner, taking him to soccer practice, and doing her laundry are all acts of love…whether they recognize it or not.
It’s important to recognize the way that your child gives and receives love. One way to pinpoint your child’s love language is to observe how he/she expresses love to you and others. Most often, the way that we express love to others is the love language that we speak most fluently. Listen to your child’s requests and complaints. If he is always asking to play a game with you or he complains about not having enough time together, he’s probably demonstrating his need for quality time. If she constantly showers you with kisses and loves to get them in return, her love language is probably physical touch. Keep in mind that your child’s love language could very well be completely different from yours and make a commitment to try to show them love in his/her own language.
*It turns out that Gary Chapman also wrote The Five Love Languages of Children, which I didn’t know about when I wrote this article. I think I’ll have to check this book out! :)