Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages?
A fantastic book by Dr. Gary Chapman that revolutionised relationships 30 years ago.
The idea is that people give and receive love differently. These different ways can be broken down into five expressions.
Everyone has a dominant expression and this is how they show love to others. But it goes both ways – for a person to truly feel loved, they need to receive love in their dominant expression too.
Understanding the five love languages is important – especially with children.
We want our children to grow up secure and confident, which is why loving them in a way that fills their love tank to overflowing should be a priority.
A child who has never felt truly loved and seen by their parents and whanau has a lot of work to do later in life – especially when it comes to maintaining healthy and rewarding long term relationships.
What is your child’s dominant Love Language?
Cuddle, Chase or Tickle?
Is your child a snuggler? Hand holder? Always in your space wanting to touch or tickle or play with your hair? Connected physically if possible?
This is a child that feels and expresses love with the love language Physical Touch.
Special hugs, secret handshakes, tickle monster games – there are loads of ways to incorporate more physical touch. Reading books snuggled up together, holding hands just for fun, even getting them dressed in a fun and physical way will fill this child’s love tank.
As your child gets older the type of physical touch they crave will change – but the value of a hug will always be welcome no matter what the age!
Presents, Gifts and Special Things
Don’t confuse a child who loves receiving gifts with being spoilt. Children who feel loved when they receive things aren’t just wanting more, more, more.
The love language of Gift Giving isn’t just about quantity or value. This child will send a lot of time making cards and carefully gift wrapping. They will save a flowers or stone from a walk to give to you. You can reciprocate in the same way. Look for special things you know your child will appreciate. Find new ways to gift – on their pillow, in their lunchbox, a letter in the mail. Maybe a small surprise with their breakfast or dinner. Save ribbons so you can dress up the simplest of gifts. Let this child come with you to help choose birthday presents for other family members.
When your child gives you a gift – make a big fuss of it. Hang the art straight away, put the flower in a vase and place it pride of place. Be sure that your child sees you appreciating their gifts.
It’s easy to thrill this child with a present. It’s easy to overcome all sorts of disappointments with a gift – however it is important to remember the other love languages all have a place in your parenting toolbox. Don’t forget to use them too.
Words, Language and lots of Talking
A child whose love language is Words of Affirmation will tell you how much they love you and why. They will write you love letters. They might even sing you songs. They love to express themselves with language – both spoken and written.
Your words matter most to them.
Making eye contact when you tell them you love them. Tell this child how much they mean to you with lots of detail. Tell them when you are proud and tell them why. Notes in their lunchbox, a bracelet with a special message. Let them overhear you telling someone how proud you are of them.
Remember that words also cut deepest for this child. When disciplining this child, be careful what you say. Be sure to listen to them and take your time explaining the situation with some positive solutions.
I Need Your Help
Does your child ask you to do things you know they can already do? Is your child particularly fussy about certain things? Do their eyes light up when you pay attention to their small needs – like getting their favourite plate for dinner or changing shoelaces out for their favourite colour.
This is the love langue known as Acts of Service.
Small gestures and helps matter to this tamariki. It is easy to get frustrated when your child insists you help them with a simple task – but when you understand they are just wanting reassurance of your love it’s easier to understand. This doesn’t mean you forget about self-reliance, but doing things together, side by side, being sure to show and help them will keep their love tank full.
I Want To Show You Something
Does your child ask you to watch something on TV with them? Does your child invite you places so they can show you things? What about games, are you asked to join in? Does bedtime have to start and end with a story or three, a long chat or prayer, preferably one on one?
Sounds like a child that feels most loved when they receive the love language of Quality Time.
Make the effort to offer your undivided attention. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, but it does have to be a child led activity where you are completely focused and present.
Can you identify your child’s dominant Love Language?
It’s never too late to start loving better!
Posted: Friday 17 February 2023