We all want to ensure that our children grow up feeling loved, as it is one of the most important aspects of parenting. We do our best to love them unconditionally, but there is always room for growth. If we want to raise children who trust and feel loved, understanding and decoding their love language can be a rewarding journey.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of love languages, it is an approach to understanding how people express and receive love. Developed by relationship counselor Gary Chapman in his book “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” it acknowledges that people have different ways of giving and receiving love. The original five love languages are quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, and acts of service, and two additional love languages have been added: shared experiences and emotional security.
Understanding your child’s love language can help you make special considerations that cater to their unique needs. How can you identify your child’s love language? How can you incorporate their preferred love language into their life in meaningful ways? Keep reading to learn about the love languages of children and how to decode your child’s love language.
Decode Your Child’s Love Language
We interviewed Dr. Suzanne Barchers, an expert in children’s behaviors, to gain insights on understanding love languages at an early age. Dr. Barchers emphasized the importance for parents to be sensitive to their children’s reactions and to let those reactions guide them. By observing and understanding where a child focuses their attention, parents can respond in ways that align with their child’s love language.
Dr. Barchers suggested spending time observing your child during family activities, such as game nights or movie nights, to understand their preferences. You can also make notes of the ways your child expresses and receives love, looking for patterns that indicate their primary love language. Taking the official free online love language quiz on behalf of your child can also provide insights into their preferences.
As you become more aware of your child’s love language, you can adjust your actions and communication to align with their needs. It may also be helpful to involve your child in conversations about love languages, teaching them about the different ways people show love and encouraging them to express their love in various ways.
Parenting Tips Based On Your Child’s Love Language
To strengthen your bond with your child, it is important to understand and respond to their specific love language. Here are some tips for each of the love languages:
1. Quality time
If your child’s love language is quality time, make them the center of your undivided attention. Find ways to spend time together that your child enjoys, both inside and outside of your usual routines. Surprise them by joining in their playtime, invite them to accompany you on errands, or extend their bedtime routine with activities they love.
2. Physical touch
If your child’s love language is physical touch, show them affection through cuddling, hugs, holding hands, or sitting in their lap. Consider creating special rituals like a unique handshake or offering them a spa or salon session. Tailor your physical touch to their comfort level and preferences.
3. Words of affirmation
If your child’s love language is words of affirmation, regularly express admiration and appreciation for their achievements and qualities. Compliment them on specific things they do well or unique traits they possess. Create a gratitude wall and write down things you are grateful for about your child.
4. Receiving gifts
If your child’s love language is receiving gifts, show thoughtfulness and intentionality when giving them gifts. It’s not about the monetary value; it’s about the sentiment behind the gift. You can surprise them with small presents that align with their interests or give them something special that belongs to you.
5. Acts of service
If your child’s love language is acts of service, go out of your way to be helpful and considerate. Prepare their favorite meal, offer to help them with a task or skill, or simply ask them how you can assist them. Recognize and appreciate the daily acts of service you already perform as a parent.
6. Shared experiences
If your child’s love language is shared experiences, plan activities that you can do together to create shared memories. This can include working on a project together, trying out new recipes, visiting museums or nature areas, or taking a class or workshop together. Focus on activities that nourish your bond and allow you both to explore and learn together.
7. Emotional security
If your child’s love language is emotional security, engage in deeper conversations that validate their emotions and thoughts. Encourage them to trust their intuition, ask about their friendships, or use question decks to stimulate meaningful discussions. Show your child that you value their feelings and offer them a safe space to express themselves.
Strengthening Bonds Using the Love Languages
To further enhance your understanding of love languages and their impact on your child’s development, you can explore Gary Chapman, Ph.D.’s book “The Five Love Languages of Children.” Additionally, you can teach your child about the concept of love languages and encourage them to express love in different ways.
It’s important not to take it personally if your child does not react positively to certain acts of love. Appreciate the love they do respond to and understand that their preferences may differ from yours. Love languages can evolve, so make it a habit to “reset” and reassess your approach periodically.
No matter which love language(s) resonate with your child, remember that they can never have too much love. Your unconditional love and understanding will be a valuable foundation for their present and future relationships.