Are we loving our children according to their love language? I might get some queer looks – don’t all parents love their children? Yes, we may feed, clothe, teach, nurture them but this might not be filling their love tank adequately. Going beyond their physical needs is part of our obligation as well. Nurturing children differs greatly from rearing livestock, that means the way we communicate and show our affection is an essential part of parenting. All children are unique and they seek different ways of affirmation. A hug may be uncomfortable to one child while totally welcome to another.
Back to the question – are we loving our children the right way? First, let’s understand what “love languages” are all about?
What are “Love Languages”?
Five love languages is a concept developed by Dr Gary Chapman based on his experience counselling couples. The love languages are different ways of expressing and receiving love – words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Everyone communicates their affection in different ways and each of us has a preferred love language. However, we also need to keep in mind the love language of others so that they will feel loved – in their own way.
Here are the five key love languages:
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Words of Affirmation: words that are spoken, written or typed to praise, encourage, appreciate
Quality time: time spent with the person in different activities with active listening, eye contact and presence
Gifts: Presents, a more tangible expression of affection! Not about the value but it’s all about the meaning and thought behind the present.
Acts of Service: Serving needs such as helping with chores, making a meal and other tasks to help the other person (without being told, of course)
Physical touch: Lots of hugs and kisses!
First, Find out Your Child’s Love Language
Does your child love a good cuddle? Or does he/she squirm out of your arms?
Does your child ask for specific things like dishes or help with building blocks?
Or does your child get exhilarated when he/she receives presents?
If you are not sure about his or her love language, try this quiz.
Second, Speak the Language!
After ascertaining the love language, try speaking in the love language to your child. It is likely that there is a more dominant love language preferred. Here are some suggestions:
Words of Affirmation: Include a note in your child’s snack box, and leave post-its in the books or the study table with plenty of encouragement like “I believe in you” or “I like how you try so hard.”
Quality Time: Dedicate some time together in the evening in an activity your child chooses – like a walk in the park, a board game or just enjoying a movie together.
Gifts: Which child doesn’t like presents? Make a list of your child’s favourites, it could be a wish list or it could be something you were eye-ing at the store. Presents are always welcome. Do remember the cost of the gift is not as important as the meaning behind it.
Acts of Service: Cook your child’s favourite food or help him/her with a project. Or you could even style your child’s hair or give a massage!
Physical Touch: This may not come naturally to some of us, but some children love to be hugged, kissed and given high-fives.
Love Your Child Well by Speaking Your Child’s Love Language
Love your child well by filling their love tank in their love language. We may have our own preferred love languages, but don’t forget that your love language might differ from your child’s. Better yet, get the whole family on board to share their love languages so we can all start loving one another better.