She was a mystery. A sweet girl, with a lot of sass, eager to learn, with a quick little temper. The best Mama to her baby dolls and the one least afraid of the scratching kitten.
I couldn’t put my finger on her love language until I started noticing how she makes presents for her friends before MOPS, before preschool and before anyone she cares about comes over. She’s a gift giver. She gives flowers, notes and guess what….when gifts are given to her, that big love tank inside of her is filled to the brim.
In our family we also have a child who thrives off quality time and another who needs lots of hugs and snuggles. Why is it important to know your child’s love language? Because when a kid (or adult) feels truly loved, behavior changes. They feel secure, valued and they are more confident and able to show love to themselves and everyone around them.
For this week, let this be your research project. Watch your kiddos. Study them. Learn what fills them up and then take the time to love them in a way that really gets through. Watch it change and transform both of you.
Here are the 5 Love Languages:
Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices and one of the easiest love languages to use unconditionally. If you ask a child “How do you know you are loved?”, this child will reply with things like: “Because I get extra hugs and kisses” or “Because mom snuggles with me at night before I go to bed”. Physical touch isn’t just confined to hugs and kisses. Playing games or sports together with your child, especially older children and boys, is a great way for you to meet this love language as well as quality time.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation are any form of verbal praise and affirmation that is genuine and affirming of how much love you have for your child. It’s not limited to the words “I love you”, though that is definitely important. If you ask a child how they know they are loved, a child with this love language will say things like: “Because Mom and Dad tell me when I’ve done a good job on a school project”, “Because they cheer loud for me at all my sports”, “Because they are always telling me how proud they are of me and how hard I work”. Other examples include: Put a note in your child’s lunchbox with encouraging words or call your child at home whenever you think of them to say I love you.
What really makes this child feel loved is your undivided attention. You can tell this is your child’s love language when they make repeated attempts and requests to play together and are seeking you out for one on one time and attention. Quality time is focused time and giving undivided attention. It’s giving your child the gift of presence, where you are going to their emotional and physical level of development. If you have more than one child, try to spend time with each of them individually.
A lot of childhood misbehavior is an attempt to get more time with mom or dad. It can get to the point for this child where even negative attention seems better than no attention. Examples include: Quality conversations that show direct and positive eye contact, cooking something together as a snack, asking specific open ended questions about your child’s day, setting a “date” with your child to do something special they have been talking about.
This one can be a bit trickier, because a lot of times, gifts are used because they are easier and less time consuming than the other four love languages. The most meaningful gifts become symbols of love, but in order for this one to work, the child must feel like the parent genuinely cares. It can’t be a payment for something a child did, or it no longer meets the love language of gifts. It’s an expression of meaning that shows the child they are special. In other words, it needs to be an expression of love that has meaning to the child and freely given by the parent. It’s not about the size or cost of the gift, either, that makes gifts special.
Some examples include: Make a special meal you know your child likes, give your child a “song” you created for them that is special to the two of you, hide a small gift in your chil’’s lunchbox, or give a gift that lasts, like planting a tree together.
Acts of Service
This love language is a harder one to define, since parenting is such a service oriented job anyway! We are constantly providing service to our kids, but the Acts of Service love language is different than the daily things we do as a parent to our children. Loving service is a gift, not a necessity. Gary Chapman defines it as “an internal desire to give ones energy freely, and done without coercion”.
For example, when a child is asking you for help in fixing their bike, or finding a lost toy, or learning how to do something new, they are crying out for emotional love! It doesn’t mean that you jump at every request – especially those that aren’t age appropriate – but rather being extremely sensitive to the child’s request and knowing that your response will help fill your child’s love tank. Read more on The Confident Mom…..
Here are a few ways to discover their love language:
- How your child show love to you
- How your child shows love to others
- Listen to what your child requests
- Notice what makes your child seem genuinely happy and at peace
Here are a few books worth reading: