Lately I have had many parents asking me how they can better understand their children. So I wanted to take a few minutes to explain about the five love languages. I guess you either know about them or you don’t…
There is a famous author called Gary Chapman, who has written a book called “The Five Love Languages of Children”. In this book he talks about what we as parents can do to make our children feel loved. Now these things are not just related to children; they can be used with spouses and so on. Allow me to explain….
Many years ago I went to live in China for two years. The very first week I went exploring the big city, hoping to find some bargain to buy. I came across an adorable skirt that I decided I just had to have. So I asked the lady in English, “How much is this skirt?” She answered me with her fingers, signalling $45.
I knew that I was meant to bargain to get a better price but I didn’t know how to speak Chinese. I desperately tried to tell the lady that the hem was very crooked and that it would take a lot of work to fix it up. But the lady seemed to know that she had one on me because I didn’t have the language. Bottom line, I got very frustrated and just paid the $45 because I really wanted the skirt.
When I arrived back home and told my husband what I had done, he wasn’t too pleased with me. You see, I had just spent two days wages on a skirt! And all because I didn’t understand the language the shop keeper was speaking.
Wouldn’t you agree that if we know what language someone is speaking, it is a bit easier to communicate with them? Well, that is what these love languages are all about. And here they are, all five of them:
- Giving of gifts
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Acts of service
Now the idea is that most children will favor one of these love languages. So how do we figure out which one? It is quite simple. You can even ask your child. You could say to them, “Jenny, would you rather have me pick you a flower from the garden and give it to you, or have me make your bed for you?” Her answer will let you know what she prefers. Get the idea?
Or you can simply observe what your child gets excited about. I have one son whose love language is quality time. So I have to make sure that I spend some one on one time with him frequently. That is what makes him feel loved. Now I am not saying that our child feels unloved if we don’t, but we do need to understand the way that they perceive being loved.
Perceptions are everything, and if our child feels loved when we touch them on the shoulder, we should aim to do that more often. OK, lets go through these five languages quickly:
1. Giving of Gifts
This does not need to mean spend money. It can mean something as simple as making a paper plane for the child who loves throwing darts. I have already mentioned picking a flower from the garden. It might mean buying a notepad or fancy pen for the budding artist, but absolutely does not need to mean spending much money.
I often feel like this language is a bit of a cop out. I mean, doesn’t everyone like to receive gifts? But these children react in a certain way and these gifts create feelings of being extremely loved for these children.
2. Words of Affirmation
This is simply using kind words to uplift your child. Make no mistake, every child needs this. But there are some children who absolutely thrive on it and feel most loved when they hear those special words like “you’re a great son, you try so hard at everything”. When these children receive words of affirmation they feel loved. When they don’t receive them, they do not feel loved.
3. Physical Touch
This can be a pat on the shoulder, a hug, a kiss, a rock on the rocker, or one of a number of things, depending on the age of the child. Tests have been done on newborn babies to gauge the reactions to physical touch.
When I was in China I visited an orphanage where there were hundreds of girl babies. They had three babies in every cot. I watched at feed time, they simply put a bottle in the babies’ mouths and left them. The staff worked very hard but there simply were too many babies and not enough staff to hold all of the babies on a daily basis.
I asked one person about that orphanage and found out that out of 400 babies that had been through the orphanage that year, 300 of them had died. I couldn’t help but wondering if lack of physical touch led to the death of those babies. There is unequivocal proof that people respond better when they get some physical touch, and for some children it is crucial.
4. Quality Time
We all know what this is. The child who understands quality time best will constantly be asking you to do things with them. “Mum, can you please play Monopoly with me? Mum, can you please play cards with me? Mum, can you please watch me the play station game? Mum, can you please look at me doing a handstand?” Anyone have one of these children?
This child understands love as “you spending time with them”. This makes them feel loved. It fills up their love tank. It is literally like we all have a big tank labeled “feeling loved”, and when we receive love in a form that we can understand, our tank gets filled up and we can operate more efficiently.
5. Acts of Service
This might be making a child’s bed, helping with their school lunch, or a variety of things. These children feel very loved when someone comes alongside them and gives them a hand. So if your child falls into this category, you should learn to find things to do for them to help them out in everyday life.
The five love languages are vitally important to understand. So I encourage you all to simply observe your children over the next few days to see if you can recognise what your child’s love language is.
Remember, most children will have one primary love language that they prefer. Some children might favour two. It is up to us as parents to understand these things so that we can make sure our children feel loved and can thrive in life.
Copyright © Kim Patrick
Kim Patrick is a Parenting Mentor and Coach, seminar speaker, and author of “Get Your Child To Behave IN 30 Days Or Less”. She is also creator of the famous “Sleeping Angels” series for children.
Kim lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, with her four children. She has a Certificate 3 in Education Support, Diploma in Christian Ministry and is currently working towards a Bachelor of Learning Management through the Central Queensland University.
The Sleeping Angels Downloadable CDs
These special CDs are aimed at speaking positive messages to your children while they are in bed asleep. See how you can improve your child’s behavior with these astounding messages. If you see no improvement, we give you your money back. That’s how confident we are.
Photo credit coloniera2