The Love Languages of Children
The most effective way to communicate love is to use your child’s love language.
God has created all of us to give and receive love. But did you know that we all, adults and children, have a unique love language that we speak? You may have noticed that we don’t all communicate our love in the same way.
You probably see this the most in your marriage. I feel most loved when my husband spends quality time with me and he feels most loved by physical touch and affection. Early in our marriage, when we were just trying to figure the marriage thing out, I was trying to give Steve love the way I wanted to be loved.
While he appreciated the effort I put forth to spend time talking and being together it wasn’t filling up his cup. On the other hand, when I touch him, he loves it. We have had to learn to speak each other’s love language. Steve learned that a little bit of quality time goes a long way for me.
Kids, like adults, desperately want to know that they are loved. And while they are still in the developmental stage in childhood, each kid has a love language all their own. The most effective way to communicate love is to use your child’s love language.
You are probably thinking, “tell them to me already!”
Here they are:
- Quality time-Defined as undivided attention.
- Words of affirmation-Words that confirm, uplift, support, and empathize
- Gifts-Material/tangible items given out of love with no expectation of repayment
- Acts of service-Acts that go above and beyond. The receiver feels seen and loved.
- Physical touch/affection-Hugs, backrubs, holding hands, brushing hair, etc that will make the receiver feel loved. This is more important to some than any other love language.
It is important to figure out the one your child speaks because when we speak their language and communicate to them the way they yearn to be related to, their cup fills up and they feel uniquely known, loved, content, secure, and happy. When the cup is empty they feel discouraged, needy, and out of sorts.
As parents, we need to be sensitive to requests for love and recognize that our response can either help fill the love tank or puncture it.
Many kids don’t feel unconditionally loved even though their parents love them very much. Many parents don’t know how to transmit their love to their child. Simply telling your child, “I love you” is not enough. If your child’s love language is gifts then their heart will swell when you give them a token to show you love them.
We all appreciate some form of quality time and physical touch or gifts or acts of service. We need all the avenues of love, but one will stand out above the rest as the one that fills the void and makes our hearts sing. Behavioral problems in many kids disappear when the parents figure out how to meet the love need and fill the cup.
How in the world do we figure out what our child’s love language is?
Observation is the first step.
When my firstborn was in elementary school we were trying to teach our 3 boys about the value of money and saving their pennies. We would give them “jobs” so that they could earn some savings and spending money. My middle son had a balanced approach and my youngest son was a strong saver. He would not part with his money. He was eager to set and reach financial goals. Which he did easily.
But the oldest always wanted to spend his money and often did so without us knowing. It irritated us and seemed irresponsible…until we realized that he was buying gifts for others and it was lighting him up. He absolutely loved to thoughtfully give something he picked out just for them and he even gave his own possessions to bless his friends.
When we realized “gifts” was how he received and gave love we encouraged it and upped our gift-giving game where he was concerned. Now as a married man I watch him lavish his wife with the most thoughtful and amazing gifts. He is speaking a gift-giving language to her that says how much he values and loves her.
- Observe how they express love to you. Your child is most likely to express his love in the way he would most like to receive it. Is your little one telling you how pretty you are? Or how good dinner tasted? Or thanking you for helping him? Those are words of affirmation.
- Observe how they show love to others. If your daughter wants to take a gift to the teacher or always wants to bless her family and friends, she is speaking love by gift
- Listen to what your child most often requests. If your son is constantly asking you to play a game with him or take a walk then he is probably requesting quality time.
- Give your child a choice between two options. Lead your child to make a choice between two love languages. For example, “Julie, would you like to go fishing with me this afternoon or help me clean up the porch for mom later?” In other words, do you need quality time or acts of service?
- Do you have a snuggle bug, always wanting to touch you, or have his back scratched? He is giving and receiving love by physical touch and affection.
We all have experienced the wonderfulness of being truly known. Let’s give the gift of love by studying our loved ones and noticing what their needs are. Try speaking your child’s love language and you will be amazed at how her cup fills up and overflows.
If you want to know more about the Love Languages of Children then we encourage you to read the book “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Dr. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D.