What's your child's love language?
It’s February and love is the theme of the month. From Valentine’s cards to candy hearts, love is everywhere this month. But love is more than just giving someone a box of chocolates once a year. We practice love all the time. Did you know that everyone has their own unique love language? It’s true, and luckily you don’t need to take a language course to learn them. A love language is simple the way a person gives and receives love. Everyone has their own special personality, so it makes sense that we would also have our own individual ways of loving.
There are five main love languages, and a person can have any single one, or any combination of the five. For example, I am evenly split between all five types. Which means I just love, love! But you aren’t here to read about me, so let’s get back to the point. What are the five love languages? I’m glad you asked. They are acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time and physical touch. Here is a detailed view with examples for each Love Language or LL.
- Acts of Service: For those who speak through acts of service, actions speak louder than words. A child with this LL will want you to do things for them that often they know how to do themselves. Such as asking you to help them fix a toy, make their bed, and so on. When a kid says something like, “I want you to do it” they are not being lazy. In fact they are actively showing you how they want to be loved. While you don’t want to start doing their chores for them, you can still show them love by doing other small things such as helping them tie their shoes, hang their clothes, or even get the supplies they need for a chore out and ready for them.
- Gifts: Everyone loves gifts, but for someone with this LL, a gift shows that you were thinking of them when they weren’t around. This is your child’s main LL if they cherish their gifts, take their time when opening presents, or remember a gift they got years after they received it. They love to give gifts as well. Showing your appreciation for the gifts they give you goes a long way, even if that gift is a cool rock they found on the way home from school. You can show love by using sticker charts, leaving notes in their lunch box, or getting them their favorite candy when you are out. Kids who show love through gifts, don’t need to be showered with expensive presents. For them, it really is the thought that counts.
- Words of Affirmations: Gifts and acts of service are nice, but for those who experience love with this LL, it’s all about what you say. Children with this LL often light up whenever they receive praise or get positive feedback. They often say things like, “you’re the best!” or “I love you so much.”. You can show them love by looking them in the eyes when you are praising them, talk about their successes to others while they are around or send loving texts or notes to them. For these kids it is important to be specific with your words. For example, never follow “I love you” with “but…”, because it can lead these types of kids to think that your love is conditional.
- Quality Time: Nothing beats some good old fashioned quality time with those you love. This is especially true for those with this LL. If your child’s favorite phrases are “Watch me!”, “What’cha doing?” or “Can we play together?”, then there is a good chance their love language is quality time. You can show them love by being fully present when you are together. That means no multitasking your chores with play time. Pausing what you are doing so you can watch them show you the awesome trip they learned, helps them feel loved by you. Time outs or being sent to their room is particularly painful for these kids, and are often ineffective and can even be counterproductive.
- Physical Touch: From hugs, to high fives to a calming hand on your shoulder, physical touch is an important part of everyone’s love language. If your child is your snugglebug, loves hugs, and always wants to sit on your lap, or get a piggyback ride, then this is their primary love language. You can show love with more hugs, kisses and snuggles. But it doesn’t always have to be so gentle. You can also have tickle fights, rough house or dance together.
Now that you know what the five love languages are, you can begin to recognize them in yourself and in those around you. More often than not, the root of most conflicts is about a miscommunication in love languages. Knowing someone's love language allows you to connect on a deeper level. You can use a child’s love language to help encourage and motivate them with things they find challenging.