The Love Language of Children
It’s February, which means it’s Valentine’s Day month. We most commonly associate Valentine’s Day with the expression of romantic love. Gary Chapman’s book “The 5 Love Languages” describes the five ways in which people both express and receive love. The book notes the five languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
- Receiving Gifts
Understanding our romantic partner’s love language can increase the positive interactions in your relationship, and strengthen your connection.
If you have a child, I’d like you to pause and reflect on your child’s love language? Do you
know what your child’s love language is?
Does your child best respond to words of affirmation such as, “Wow, you kept trying and didn’t give up!”, “You were such a team player during the game today!”, “You were so brave when giving that book report in front of your class!”. Remember, the way we speak to our children is the way they will speak to themselves.
Does your child crave quality time with you? These children feel seen and loved when they have your undivided attention for a period of time. This may mean turning off all screens during a meal and focusing on your child’s day, coloring together, taking a walk or riding bikes, cooking together, or reading to your child at bedtime, to give a few examples. I read to my children before bedtime into their middle school years. It was a lovely way to end the day, have intentional time with them, and we could wonder about the book together. After reading “Where the Red Fern Grows”, my sons declared, “Pleeeease, no more books where a dog dies”. So our next book was Gordon Korman’s “No More Dead Dogs”. 🙂
Some children crave physical touch. Can you spend 5 to 10 minutes a day being physically connected to your child? Maybe give them extra hugs, high fives, brush their hair, rub their feet, hold their hand, wrestle with them?
For others, their love language is giving gifts. The gifts don’t have to be expensive. Perhaps it’s the gift of a funny or encouraging note in their lunchbox, or tucked under their pillow at bedtime. Maybe it’s the gift of making your child’s favorite meal, or the gift of a sticker chart to celebrate their success.
Finally, acts of service. As Gary Chapman notes, as a parent we may feel our whole day is an “act of service” meeting our child’s needs. However the acts of service may really be our desire to give our time and energy in service to a need our child has. This could mean helping with a school project when asked, driving your tween to meet friends at a coffee shop without a sigh or complaint, letting them play their music in the car, or walking the dog when it’s your child’s turn to do this task.
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you’re unsure how your child would like to feel seen, heard, and loved, just ask them! A reminder that when your child’s love tank is full, they feel better about themselves and more connected to you. Win/Win!