Each of us has a special language that helps us communicate our love and gives us new opportunities to receive love. After decades of serving as a marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman has boiled down love to five categories- words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. He has shared these ideas in his book “The Five Love Languages.”
According to Chapman, we speak and receive love in these five ways. Each of these languages can be present in our lives, but some languages are more prevalent to individuals than others. Applying this idea to children, you might have one child who speaks or communicates in one love language whereas your other children might speak in a different language. This week, we encourage you to take the time to understand and discover the love languages your child speaks. Then, give him the opportunities to receive and give love. It will pay off in huge dividends.
Here are the definitions of the five love languages and some ideas you can do to share love with your child in each language. We have also included ideas to let your child speak love in the corresponding language.
- Words of affirmation. Adults can speak words of affirmation to their children by praising them for a job well done or encouraging them to do tasks. Chapman points out that sometimes people don’t want to do a task if they are nagged but instead might do the task since others have encouraged them. For instance, by telling your child he is a great dishwasher, you might get him to do the dishes more often than saying, “why don’t you ever help with the dishes?”Speaking words of affirmation can be done through words or by giving a card or note saying how special your child is. Children communicate in this language by giving a card, or speaking their love by saying, “You are the best mom, ever” or “Dad, I love when we play baseball together.”
- Quality time. Communicating love as quality time means spending time together and giving your child your undivided attention. This means shutting off the TV or radio and really enjoying your time together.To speak this language, think of fun things you would like to do as a family. Maybe your idea is to go on a hike, go to the library or have ice cream together. Quality time is an opportunity to unplug and focus on your company. Children who speak this language might come across as needy when they want your continued time and attention. Be aware of giving them time and asking them what they would like to do together.
- Receiving gifts. Speaking love through gift giving doesn’t have to be costly. You can give your child a small toy, or something that reminds you of them. You can also do cost free gifts like draw a picture for your child, writing a song or finding a special rock while you are out on a walk. People who like to receive gifts find any thoughtful gesture to be an act of love.Children can speak this language by giving parents a feather, flowers she has picked or by coloring a picture for family members.
- Acts of service. Sometimes, we just want children to do chores without asking. Children who speak in acts of service will be quick to jump in and lend a helping hand. They might keep their rooms organized or clean. They might love cleaning up toys since they know it is helpful to dad or mom.Parents continually speak in acts of service, especially when children are born. Parents have to change diapers, feed babies and rock their youngsters to sleep. All of this is done as an act of love.
- Physical touch. Giving hugs or kisses, holding hands or cuddling on the couch are all examples of physical touch. Children that communicate in this language might like to sit close to family members or touch their hands. To speak and receive in this language, be open to giving and receiving touch.
Stay in tune with your child and “listen” to the way that she communicates love. It might just help you relate to your child in a new way. And, we can all use more love in our lives. Someone wise said, “Love makes the world go around!”
© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014