Love is one of those words that have multiple meanings and yet unless you know how you express love individually, it can be rather challenging when discovering another person’s love language. Your children are no exception. According to Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages, there are five very distinct ways in which a person feels “loved”. He uses the love languages to fill their “love tank”- or even better – to have it overflowing, it’s best to discover not only your own love language but that of your partner. Well, let’s take the same logic behind the successful love language talk and apply it to your children.
First, what is Gary Chapman talking about when he states the Five Love Languages? He’s talking about:
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
- Receiving Gifts
You’d think that children would thrive and relish in the delight of number five: receiving gifts. However, you may notice how short-lived that initial elation lasts. Of course it will vary from child to child, however, if your children do not seem to thrive emotionally from receiving gifts alone, then that is probably not their primary love language.
How to Discover Their Love Language
First, discover your own. That’s right. It would be easier to understand another’s love language if you know for yourself what you crave and desire from another. Where do you realize you get that “happy-giddy-lights-me-up” feeling when it pertains to one of the above?
- Are you extra elated and joyous when someone offers to do something for you (Acts of Service)?
- Do you find yourself walking on cloud nine after hearing a compliment on yourself, your achievements, or perhaps a certain style you call your own (Words of Affirmation)?
- Is it the warm-fuzzy feeling you get when someone goes out of their way to bring you a special gift that is personal to you (Receiving Gifts)?
- Perhaps you are the type of person to melt and de-stress into a touch whether it be a casual handhold, shoulder rub, or legs draped and intertwined (Physical Touch).
- Are you most peaceful and content just knowing it’s you and you alone with the person you hold dear (Quality Time)?
Pick your top two love languages.
Once you understand your own, now it’s discovery time. You can guess on this part, but it’s a whole lot easier if you simply ask your child what they like. You don’t have to be technical or over think this part. If they are of speaking age, even as young as 2 years old, simply ask them: “When do you feel most happy with mommy or daddy? What do you like for us to do?” And give them examples. For young children, it’s going to be based on their feelings rather than their logical thinking.
Of course, do remember that your love language may not be theirs!
We are so diverse and individual human beings – it may not be easy at first, but don’t give up. Once you discover how your child thrives on their love language, not only is it easier to relate to them and what they need, but how much more receptive and love-giving will they, in turn, be like? Isn’t that what we want all our children to learn to do – To be able to give and love in the most unselfish ways while knowing what they need in return to thrive in an emotionally healthy relationship?
Knowing exactly how your child receives love takes a lot of the guesswork out of coping with differences between yourself and their siblings, if you have more than one child. You may notice that one child really does need your touch more than another. They need that closeness and touch to feel comforted and complete. It’s not that you have to hold them 24/7, but notice that if they are unusually upset, if all it takes is a 10-minute hold and embrace to calm them done, how much easier is that than asking over and over again what’s wrong and sending them to their room because they are unable to convey their feelings?
By learning your own and your child’s primary love languages, there comes this peace with less anxiety trying to “figure out this kid” and what they want. And the best part is… you can start at birth or when they are a teen. There’s no limit on when you can start implementing loving someone the way they need to be loved. And yes, I say “need”. You need the Words or Affirmation (if that’s you) or the Quality Time to feel valued, appreciated, and ultimately loved… by another. This is human nature.
Remember, we’re all so diverse and our children are no different or the exception to what ourselves need in terms of love. It’s the type of love that impacts us differently than others and either help us thrive or lost wondering how to get loved.
Love is a verb. It’s something you choose to do: to give and receive love. Your children learn from their environment and especially from their parents or guardians. If you are craving love from others, just like asking your child how they feel best, TELL a loved one how you WANT them to show you love. Give them examples and what exactly you need. This isn’t a guessing game or ‘good luck reading my mind’ game. Be straightforward, respectful, and intentional with what you need to also fill up your love tank through language and pass that, lovingly, onto your children.
Photo Credits: AndiL.