If you have been living under a rock for the last 20 plus years and you don’t know what a ‘love language’ is, then welcome back to the 21st century! I’m kidding, of course. In case some don’t know though, a ‘love language’ is just simply the way in which you express and receive love. Knowing your kids’ love language can really help you reach your child on a deeper level. For example; my daughter LOVES getting presents. In order to speak her ‘love language’ I buy her things (even a small sticker book from the grocery store). No matter how silly and useless I see these gifts, this is the way that she feels loved so I try to remember this from time to time for her.
According to the Book
The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell go into detail about finding which love language your child possesses. The five that they touch on in the book are as follows: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, and Acts of Service.
Does your child always want to snuggle, give high fives, hug, etc? Then your child might fall into this category.
Words of Affirmation
“Great job!”, “You’re so good at that!”, or “I’m so proud of you!” are all words of affirmation that your child might seek.
If your child is always asking for you to play games with them or to spend time together, generally involving just you two, they would probably fit into this category.
Most people enjoy getting gifts, but some people LOVE getting gifts. As I stated before, my daughter fits here. She is always making me, her friends, and other family members gifts. (Remember- we often show love the way that we most want to receive it!)
Acts of Service
Maybe your child feels loved and fulfilled when you do things for them. Some examples of acts of service would be to make their lunch or to lay their clothes out for the day. My husband feels loved and appreciated when he comes home to a clean house. I do my best to make this happen when I can since I know to him, that says, “I love you”.
Getting to know someone is an intricate part of having a relationship with them. As you get to know your spouse, or significant other, you ask lots of questions and spend a whole lot of time telling stories to one another. This paints a picture of who you are and what kinds of things have shaped you into the person that you are today.
As you get to know your kids the same thing must happen. Of course, as their parents we are aware (or should be) of most of the external circumstances that are shaping them into the people that they are. We know, and can understand, a bit more about why they may or may not act a certain way due to a particular experience in their lives. Although we may know our children fairly well, it’s always good to strive to know them better.
How to Find Your kids’ Love Language
Treat your child the same way that you would a new friend. How do you get to know them? You go out, sometimes one-on-one, talk and share experiences together. You ask questions about their lives and how certain things make them feel. And above all, you listen and remember.
We’ve always tried to take our kids out on ‘dates’. Sometimes it’s a more formal date where we might go to lunch or dinner together, and other times it’s as simple as a trip to the gas station with just one child. This gives us the time to focus on just that one child, rather than them, their siblings, and all of the responsibilities that come with being home (like laundry…I mean, seriously. Does it EVER end?). We haven’t been so good at taking the kids out lately because, well…life, but there is always room for improvement I suppose.
After we go out with one of our kids I like to jot down some of the important things that they talked about or that I picked up on. Maybe I noticed that they wanted to sit next to me at the restaurant instead of across from me, maybe they kept complimenting my appearance, etc. You can often look back at these notes and see right away which category you think this child would fit into.
10 Questions to Ask Your Child
Before you head out with your child, ask them what it is that they would want to do on your date. This alone will tell you a lot about what is important to them. Maybe it’s kicking a soccer ball to each other, talking one-on-one, playing a game of Kubb, or shopping.
When on your date, here are 10 good questions to ask your child to not only discover their love language, but to also see what makes them tick. How does your child find joy, peace, relaxation, love and also how does your child give this back to others?
- Who is your best friend?
- Why are they your best friend? What is it about this person that your child enjoys? Do they make them laugh, are they kind, are they interested in the same things? Knowing these answers will help to know what kinds of qualities your child sees as valuable in others.
- Are you a good friend? Why do you think so?
- What are five words that would describe you best? It’s good to know what our children think of themselves. Sometimes our inner dialogue can be a bit harsh. It’s always a good idea to hear how your child sees themselves. This may be a good reminder to you as the parent to point out some of those good qualities that maybe they don’t see in themselves.
- What is the hardest thing about being a child? As grown ups we tend to think that we’re the ones that have it rough all the time. We hardly ever think that our little ones could possibly be feeling a bit stressed out with life also. With this question, it can open the doors to what weighs heaviest on your child’s heart. Maybe it’s something you can fix, maybe you can’t; but having them know that you care and you understand matters more.
- When you grow up, what do you want to be and why? Young kids and their interests change almost as quickly as the weather, but sometimes not. If your child says they want to be a Dr. because they want to help people feel well, then help them cultivate that desire. Brainstorm some ways that they could help people here and now. If they want to be a writer when they grow up, encourage that. Get them a journal to write some of their favorite stories and no matter what, show interest in it!
- What is something that makes you so angry? Maybe your child will respond that they feel angry when they are rushed in the morning. This is an easy fix, everyone wakes up earlier. Maybe they feel angry when their little sister takes their toys. Work with them to come up with a solution (if possible) or even coping tools if it isn’t.
- How do you calm yourself down when you are really angry? Maybe your child has the proper coping tools for feelings of anger and sadness; if so, great job! If they don’t have those tools, make a mental note to begin instilling those into their lives.
- If you could do anything you wanted for a whole day, what would it be?
- What is one thing that you would change about the world if you could?
Above all, letting your child know that they are heard is the most important. When you listen and validate their feelings, they feel loved.
It is our job, as parents, to be sure that our children feel loved and nurtured. The world can be a cruel place, as most of us know. People aren’t always kind and bad things happen often. You may not be able to fix everything or every part of their lives (you shouldn’t-that’s part of growing up and learning how to deal with tough circumstances), but just letting them know that they can turn to you will be more than helpful. We parents aren’t perfect, but we can always strive to be better and better. If you would like more detailed information on what your kids’ love language is take this online quiz and buy the book by Chapman and Campbell.