Speaking Greek


Do you ever feel when you try to express your love to your child, your actions don’t elicit the response you were hoping for? Parents often assume their kids know they are loved, but that’s not always the case.

For a child to feel love, we must learn to speak her unique love language. Every child has a special way or perceiving love. There are basically five ways children (indeed, all people) speak and understand emotional love. They are: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving and acts of service.

If you have several children in your family, chances are, they speak different languages and may hear in different love languages. Whatever language your child understands, she needs it expressed in one way—unconditionally.

Unconditional love shows love to a child no matter what. We love regardless of what the child looks like; regardless of her assets, liabilities or handicaps; regardless of what we expect her to be; and, most of all, regardless of how she acts. This doesn’t mean we will always like her behavior, but our love doesn’t waiver based on actions. Unconditional love can prevent problems such as resentment, feelings of guilt, fear, anger, low self-esteem and insecurity. Children need to feel loved; if they don’t, they may seek approval elsewhere.

As your children grow and mature, they need to receive love in all five languages, but as they grow, their primary and secondary love languages will become clear. Here are some ways you can incorporate the various love languages into your child’s life:

1. Some ways to incorporate physical touch include hugging, kissing, child sitting on lap, cuddling during stories, television, or movies, tossing in the air, gentle touches on legs, arms, head, shoulders, etc., back scratches, high-fives and contact sports.

2. Words of affirmation are ways to give praise and encouragement for what the child does. Since a child’s behavior is something he or she controls, there is a direct impact. Praising too frequently may have little positive effect.

The way you word praise and your voice tone and volume make a big difference. Words of guidance will be sought elsewhere—from school, TV, peers, or other adults—if not received from parents.

Although it may seem obvious, words of negativity really hurt, and the greatest enemy of encouragement is anger.

3. Spend quality time with your child. Kids really seem to crave this, especially any one-on-one time. This love language is fairly self-explanatory. It can be going somewhere or just hanging out. Think of those moments when you’re sharing thoughts and feelings, having good, quality conversations.

Mealtime, going for walks, story time or bedtime can be good opportunities.

4. Giving gifts can be one that parents roll their eyes at. However, it is more about the thought behind it. In a child’s mind: “You were thinking of me and got it, since I’m important.” Other languages need to be combined with gift giving. As with praise, excess gifts lose their meaning. You can tell gift giving is important if kids express excitement when receiving a gift or based on how it is presented, or display it proudly.

5. Acts of service is a big part of being a parent, as the list of tasks, errands, and to-do list items never seems to end. Acts of service refers to going above and beyond making sure kids’ needs are met.

This could include offering to help with something before they ask. Encouraging a hobby, checking homework, hosting events for the kids at home or doing things to make an illness more bearable.

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kids, talking, love