The primary purpose of the Freebie Finding Mom site is to help you and your family live frugally. I try to put forth ways to save without sacrificing all the fun in life as well as ways to do more together as a family (ex. DIY crafts as a cheap alternative to family activities like amusement parks). However, every now and then, I feel compelled to share information that isn’t necessary related to finances or saving money…this is one of those articles.
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Several years ago, my husband and I read the best-selling book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. We found it to be incredibly insightful, and we tried to put the lessons of the book into practice in our marriage. Recently, we found ourselves wondering what our two-and-a-half year old son’s love language is.
If understanding your spouse’s love language is important to a marriage or partnership I would hypothesize that understanding your child’s love language is equally important. After all, you want your child to grow up happy, healthy, and of course, feeling loved. With that in mind, I started doing some Internet research and discovered that Gary Chapman also wrote a book called The 5 Love Languages of Children.
Before I get to what I learned, let me tell you why I believe it’s important that every parent know their child’s love language. If you do not understand how your child best gives and receives love he or she may grow up wondering whether or not he or she is truly loved. This is especially true if he or she has siblings who do seem happy and seem to receive “real” love. Furthermore, if you don’t understand how your child gives love you may miss out on these expressions thereby making your child feel rejected. Finally, if you understand your child’s love language and speak that language you may be able to help your child do the same as he or she grows up. If your child becomes fluent in the languages of love he or she is more likely to have stable, healthy relationships throughout life.
No matter who you’re dealing with, there are five languages of love:
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
Let’s take a closer look at each….
If your child’s love language is gifts he or she will feel most loved when receiving personal, thoughtful gifts. It can be really easy to think that every child’s love language is gifts because children ask for so many things (candy, toys, etc.). However, children with this love language will be very touched by gifts especially thoughtful things that come out of the blue. In addition, if your child’s love language is gifts he or she will probably frequently give you things. It’s important to express gratitude and pleasure at receiving these gifts so your child will feel loved.
If your child’s love language is physical touch he or she will feel most loved when in contact with you such as hugs, kisses, cuddling, or perhaps even wrestling. While many young children seek out physical contact with mom and dad, the child that speaks the love language of physical touch will light up when hugged, tossed in the air, spun around, patted on the back, etc. As your child gets older he or she may act uncomfortable with physical touch because mom and dad are SO uncool; however, little things like a touch on the arm, pat on the back, or brief hug will still mean a lot.
If your child’s love language is quality time he or she will feel most loved when receiving your focused, undivided attention. As a busy parent, especially the parent of multiple children, this can be a hard language to speak; however, there really is no substitute for quality time when a child speaks this love language. Keep in mind that quality time doesn’t necessarily mean a weekend trip with just you and your child; rather, it can be as simple as taking your child out for ice cream or sitting with them for an hour listening to them talk about what’s important to them.
If your child’s love language is service he or she will feel most loved when you do some service for him or her. For example, doing his or her laundry or fixing a favorite toy. The “service” or task doesn’t have to be anything huge; any sacrifice of your time to the child that speaks the love language of service will translate as being loved. Keep in mind that children make a lot of requests; just because your child’s love language is service doesn’t mean you have to honor every request or risk your child feeling unloved…you merely need to be sensitive to requests and remember what your child’s love language is.
Words of Affirmation
If your child’s love language is words of affirmation he or she will feel most loved when hearing endearments, praise, encouragement, and compliments. Basically, if your child’s love language is words of affirmation you need to tell not show. Words speak volumes. If this is your child’s love language it is essential to keep in mind that your child will be very sensitive to verbal criticisms. When criticizing the child with this love language you should try to emphasize any positives.
Note, it is very important to remember that while a child has a “primary” language of love he or she really needs to receive all five types. You can’t NOT hug a child just because his or her love language is service.
Now that you know about the five languages of love, how can you determine which is your child’s? Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer here. We’re dealing with human emotions…not math. Your child can’t answer one single question which will definitively pinpoint his or her love language. In order to determine your child’s love language you can do two things. One, try all five over time and see which your child responds to best. Two, observe how your child gives and receives love and try to match that to one of the five languages. Here are some things to watch out for:
Does your child frequently give gifts to you, other family members, friends, stuffed animals, etc.? If so, his or her love language many be gifts.
Does your child climb up on your lap nightly for a bed time story or after dinner television? Does he or she insist on a few rounds of good night hugs and kisses? If so, his or her love language may be physical touch. This one is a bit easier to determine if you’ve got other children that you can compare your little one with.
Does your child consistently follow you around and try to get you alone? For example, does he or she want to go on all your errands with you regardless of how boring they are? Does your child frequently try to get you to see or watch things he or she has been working on? If so, his or her love language may be quality time.
Does your child offer (without being asked) to help with chores or tasks around the house? Does he or she offer to help the teacher after class or at recess? If so, his or her love language may be service.
Does your child get overly upset when you lecture him or her about a low test grade or forgotten chore? Does he or she frequently verbally praise or express love to family, friends, stuffed animals, etc.? If so his or her love language may be words of affirmation.
Spend some time trying to pinpoint your child’s love language. Knowing your child’s love language will help you to meet his or her emotional needs and help you raise a happy and healthy adult.