As a parent, of course you want your children to grow up feeling loved, valued and understood. By learning more about the five love languages and how they can be implemented into your parenting, you can help ensure the emotional needs of your little ones are being met each and every day.
After 45 years of marriage and 35 years as a pastor and marriage counsellor, Dr. Gary Chapman decided to share what he had discovered makes a relationship work with the world.
His first book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, has been a continuous New York Times bestseller. It suggests that every person has a particular love language that they require to feel loved. But these five love languages don’t apply to just marriage. They apply to all kinds of relationships, including the relationship between parent and child.
Love languages and children
In his book The 5 Love Languages of Children, Dr. Chapman discusses how to effectively give your children all the love they need. Dr. Chapman believes a great way to visualize a child’s needs is to imagine he or she has an “emotional love tank.” When the tank is full, a child will grow up feeling loved and valued. When it’s not filled sufficiently, though, the child can grow up with many internal struggles. Chapman suggests the best way to ensure your child’s needs are met is by figuring out what his or her particular love language is and ensuring you give heavy doses of that particular language while sprinkling in aspects of the other love languages. So what are the five love languages?
Words of affirmation
Kids who value words of affirmation the most will light up when you say “I love you” or let them know verbally why you value them. This also means that hurtful words or comments will particularly sting and stay with them for a long time to come.
Acts of service
For kids in this group, actions speak louder than words. As a parent, you naturally do a multitude of things for your child every day. But to make them acts that show your love, you need to make it clear you’re happy to do them. Reading your child a special story at night or offering to cook their favourite meal will be very much appreciated.
Don’t worry. A child falling into this category doesn’t at all mean you have to buy out Toys “R” Us to keep him or her happy. Small tokens, such as a special treat in his lunch box or bringing her a daisy you found while you were gardening, are great ways to show you care. Elaborate presents void of emotion aren’t helpful, but thoughtful gifts that represent your love mean a great deal.
If your child is particularly joyful when out on a private walk with you, he or she might speak the language of “quality time.” Kids who fall into this category are happy when they have your full, undivided attention. Unexpected cancellations, such as not being able to attend a recital or sporting event, will hurt a great deal. Being present during your time together and being reliable are very important here.
Kids who respond best to physical touch greatly appreciate signs of affection, such as hugs, kisses, hand holding or pats on the back throughout the day. These gentle symbols of connection show your child you’re always there.
All about love
It’s important to remember that no child can survive off just one love language. Focusing on one or two your child particularly responds to or appreciates while sprinkling in elements of others is the best way to ensure your love is known.
To find out more about the many ways you can use the love languages to strengthen your relationship with your child, check out Dr. Chapman’s book and free study guide.