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, for just as children often have different personalities, they may hear in different love languages. Whatever language your child understands, she needs it expressed in one way—unconditionally.
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:
- Some ways to incorporate physical touchinclude 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.
- 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, as it can come across as insincere. This can set up an expectation for praise, and create anxiety when it is absent. The way you word praise and your voice tone and volume make a big difference.
- Spend quality timewith 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.
- Giving giftscan be one that parents roll their eyes at. Of course, kids like gifts! 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. It is not a paycheck or bribe, nor should it be a substitute for time spent.
- Acts of serviceis 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, or at least not saying “in a minute” when they do.