Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell introduced the concept of love languages in the New York times bestselling book The Five Love Languages of Children. In it, they explore how some people love through physical touch, others through words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, or quality time. While it’s certainly common to have different love languages within a family, once you learn your child’s unique preference, it can make all the difference in your relationship and their happiness.
For children who understand this love language, physical touch will communicate love more deeply than saying the words “I love you,” giving a present, fixing a bicycle, or spending time with them. Of course, they receive love in all the languages, but for them, the one with the clearest and loudest voice is physical touch. Without hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and other physical expressions of love, their love tanks will remain less than full.
• Give lots of hugs and kisses.
• Play games that involve a lot of touching like twister or this little piggy.
• Make up a secret handshake.
• Snuggle together to read a book.
• Simply pat your child on the back or hold hands when you walk.
In a culture where we often prefer to show our love rather than say it, words can be all the more powerful. We seem to only say “I love you” on special occasions, but for children who prefer this love language, even words that are quickly said will not be soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.
• Say “I love you” at least once a day.
• Say “I love watching you…(play, draw, sing, etc.).”
• Give your child a pet name or term of endearment.
• Write little love notes for them to find in their lunch box or around the house.
• Acknowledge and praise their efforts.
Quality time is focused, undivided attention. Quality time is the gift of your presence. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you’re there, being together. This is my daughter’s love language. To her, I’m the most important person in the world, at least right now, so she needs to feel the same from me.
• Put your phone away.
• Listen to your child’s stories and feelings.
• Bring your child along to run errands.
• Do fun activities like drawing, dancing, or playing together.
• Go on adventures in different places like the park, the library, the mall, etc.
You might be inclined to think that all children love gifts, judging from the way they beg for things. While it is true that all children–and adults–respond positively to accepting presents, those whose love language this is will have a deeper appreciation for what you give. Remember, for them, this is love’s loudest voice. They see the gift as an extension of you and your love, it doesn’t even matter how big or small of a thing it is.
• Choose gifts that are meaningful to your child. It could be a small, inexpensive token, but give something frequently.
• Make a collection of special wrapping paper or ribbons and boxes.
• Gift your child with a special song–either one you created or just one that will be “your song.”
• Create a scrapbook and fill it with your photos together.
• Buy something with their name on it or something that fits their personality, like a shirt or a mug.
Those who speak this love language would ask you to fix a bike or mend a doll’s dress, but they don’t merely want to get a task done–this is your child’s cry for love. If your child’s primary love language is acts of service, this does not mean that you must jump at every request, but each request does call for a thoughtful, loving response.
• Make your child his or her favorite meal.
• Organize his or her drawers for him or her.
• Surprise your child by finishing a chore he or she usually does.
• Check out library books you know they would like.
• Help your child do his or her homework.