Updated: Apr 1
The love and affection we have for our children is undeniable, but are we really showing love to our children the way they can receive it? For your kid to feel connected to you, it's important to speak their love language.
Researchers in child psychology believe that for children to be fully healthy, they must have their emotional needs addressed. Emotional needs include the need to be loved and appreciated and the desire to know they belong and are valued. With these, kids are more likely to grow into loving and caring adults.
What are the five love languages?
The Five Love Languages was first published in 1992 by Dr. Gary Chapman, a marital counselor and author, who intended to help people understand what it means to be loved and express it to others.
Gary's theory of the five love languages describes our preferences for receiving and expressing love. The five love languages of physical touch, acts of service, affirmation, quality time, and getting gifts are all present.
Your child's love language might be physical touch if they like snuggling, cuddling, kissing, and other forms of physical contact. It might be difficult for a parent who doesn't express affection via physical contact. As a mother, you may feel "touched out" or just do not like snuggling, and this is perfectly okay! With time, you'll learn to give your children the affection they need while with the boundaries you need. What matters the most is your determination. There are many routes to help your kid, including:
Hugging and kissing them more often
Playfighting or wrestling
Greeting one another with a handshake, a high five, or a fist bump
Assuring your youngster with a soothing massage
Reading them stories while they're seated on your lap
Lulling your kid to sleep with gentle rocking or patting
Enjoying a movie together while snuggled up on the couch
However, please pay attention to what they say and do. For example, while some kids enjoy tickling, others despise it. Hugs are acceptable to some teens as long as it doesn’t embarrass them in the presence of their friends. Respect their boundaries the way you would want someone else to respect them.
It's a lot of fun discovering what each child likes and finding ways to include a few pleasant touches into their daily routines.
Acts of service
As parents, we help our children with tasks they can't do by themselves. As they grow older, we show them how much we care by training them to care for themselves. Kids with this kind of love language need to know which gestures or acts of service are most meaningful to them. Is it a sign of your affection when you assist them with their homework? Or do you want to teach them how to play football or volleyball? When you know what your kid enjoys the most, do it frequently. Some other acts of service they can do with you include:
washing dishes after dinner
sweeping the floor at the end of the day
washing and folding laundry
putting together furniture
There are many different ways you can show love by serving your children and helping them show love to you if this is your love language.
Words of affirmation
Conveying love, appreciation, and inspiration are common forms of affirmation. Kids receive nonverbal cues long before they fully comprehend them. The words alone aren't enough. We must do more than just speak. Tone, loudness, and emotion influence the total transmission of love.
Affirming signals of love are strengthened when they are accompanied by physical touch.
Here are some words of affirmation your children might appreciate (adapt to your situation as needed):
“I am so glad to be your parent.”
“I am proud of who you are, just as you are.”
“You have so many valuable talents.”
“You can do amazing things.”
“Your life is so important.”
“You are a strong leader.”
“I believe in you.”
If your child often requests you to play or be with them or if they like showing you things, they value quality time spent with you. If you offer your child your time and attention and spend "golden moments" with them, they will feel valued. If this is your child's love language, ensure you spend more time one-on-one, movie watching, reading books, or even taking a long road trip. They will appreciate your undivided attention.
It's important to remember that punishing your child by locking them in their room pains them the most if their love language is spending quality time with you.
Don't mistake a gift with a bribe or compensation for a task your child does well. It's hardly an actual present when you give your kid a toy just after she's cleaned her room. Make sure you are being sincere when you show them your affection.
For the gift to convey your love for your kid, you must first replenish your child's emotional tank.
The following are some important points to remember when using the love language of gifts:
Do not forget about the other love languages while giving the gift.
Gifts are not a replacement for the different forms of expression of affection. Avoid giving too many presents to your children.
When it comes to presents, particularly toys, be cautious. Know your child's states and preferences.
Giving doesn't always need a trip to the mall! Gifts such as unique stones, seashells, plants, and a handwritten letter are all possibilities.
The Bottom Line
Bonding with your kids will be so much easier if you learn their love language. Speaking your children's love language(s) may require some work and focus, especially if they are different from yours. Be mindful that strong bonds between parents and children do not just happen; they are nurtured over time and with consistent effort.
Today, take some time to write down some of your children’s characteristics and identify their love language(s). Just for fun, you can use this free Love Languages™ Quiz for yourself, your partner, your teens, and your children.