February is the month of love, and what a delightful time to reflect on how we love our children and how they love us. Children thrive on love. That love is different for every child. In his ground-breaking book, Dr Gary Chapman unpacks the Five Love Languages. These include words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gifts.
We love Dr Seuss’s quote, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” This means that our little ones experience and express love in one of these love languages, just like any adult would. We’ll discover how they experience love as their little personalities reveal themselves. Understanding their love language allows us to communicate our love in ways that are meaningful to them and deepen the connection we have with our children. Children’s love languages refer to how children feel loved and appreciated by their caregivers.
Children can’t entirely communicate their love languages, so how do you identify them for them? We treat others the way we want to be treated. Pay attention to how they demonstrate their love to you.
Words of Affirmation: Children who feel loved through words of affirmation feel appreciated and valued when you express your love for them love through words and verbal communication. This could include saying “I love you” or offering specific compliments about their behaviour or achievements. Does your child smile from ear to ear when they receive praise? If your child is the one who often compliments you or says things like “you’re the best, mommy,” you’ve got a “words baby” on your hands.
Physical Touch: These children crave physical attention. If your children generally run to you for hugs and cuddles or are constantly touching you or giving you kisses, you probably have physical touch babies in your care. Show them love, by hugging, holding hands, or being physically close to them.
Quality Time: These children crave your undivided attention and focus. These little ones always want to show you something or want you to sit and talk to them or walk with them. Show them some love through playing together, reading together, or simply spending time together without distractions.
Acts of Service: You’ll notice these little ones often want you to do things for them. That’s not laziness. It’s how they feel loved. It’s essential to encourage them to be independent, but doing something special for them, like warming clothes in front of the heater on a cold morning or making their favourite snack, goes a long way.
Gifts: Children who feel loved through gifts feel valued when you give them small presents or tokens of love. These don’t have to be huge gestures or gifts. They appreciate the little things. There’s a fine line between spoiling children with too many presents, but teaching them that you don’t need to be given anything to feel loved is vital.
Make an effort to speak your child’s love language regularly. This can help children feel loved, valued, and secure in their relationships. As your children grow, teach them about the love languages, and you will be able to teach them what yours are. In the interim, adapt your love language to meet your child’s needs.
If you and your partner love one another but speak different languages, you would make every effort to learn that language to convey your love to them effectively. The same applies to understanding our children’s love languages. As Dr Chapman states, “You have to know how to communicate love to a child so that he genuinely feels loved.”